UK stocks opened higher on Monday, buoyed by positive Covid-19 vaccine news over the weekend from AstraZeneca and Pfizer. At 0830, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 34.72 points, or 0.6%, at 6,066.81. Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said on Sunday that the US company's Covid-19 vaccine could be distributed to Americans before the end of the year. AstraZeneca, meanwhile, announced it had resumed British clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine following a brief pause that was caused by a participant experiencing an adverse reaction. In early trade in London, AstraZeneca had edged up 0.1% to £84.3508. Elsewhere, pub chain JD Wetherspoon dropped 2.6% to 902.5 on reporting that its sales over the weekend were 22.5% below the equivalent Saturday last year. Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin also critisised the press for what he claimed were 'negative views' about the risk pubs pose to the spread of Covid-19. Telecom group Vodafone shed 0.1% to 110.08p after it announced that due diligence had been 'substantively completed' with regards to a potential sale of its 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt to Saudi Telecom. Music and audio products group Focusrite rallied 8.7% to 798.8p, having guided for annual operating earnings ahead of expectations amid a 52% jump in sales. Specialist recruitment company SThree climbed 2.6% to 253p, despite its net fee revenue slumping 14% in the third quarter, owing to the Covid-19 crisis. SThree, however, also said there had been an improving underlying sequential performance since the half year and that it had brought some staff off furlough. Vaccine delivery system developer N4 Pharma plunged 36% to 6.13p as it revealed disappointing study results for a potential Covid-19 treatment. RNA-focused therapy developer Silence Therapeutics rose 0.2% to 469p after posting a deeper first-half loss on higher R&D spending and appointing Mark Rothera as its new chief executive. Rothera was previously CEO of Orchard Therapeutics and had also served as chief commercial officer of PTC Therapeutics. Brake technology group Surface Transforms soared 48% to 36.3p on news that it had won a large contract with a global vehicle manufacturer. Surface Transforms also upgraded its annual revenue guidance and said it would increase its headcount to handle the new work. Investment company HgCapital Trust added 1.1% to 278p as it posted a positive first-half performance and lifted its dividend. HgCapital Trust declared an interim dividend of 2.0p per share, up from 1.8p on-year. Investment group City of London firmed 6.1% to 84.0p, even as it cut its dividend after reporting a fall in profit on unrealised investment losses. City of London declared a final dividend of 20p per share, making a total for the year of 30p, down from 40.5p on-year. Payments group PCI-PAL gained 3.0% to 41.2p, having posted a full-year loss after a rise in sales was offset by investment in its growth plans.
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