UK stocks opened lower on Monday as investors reacted to the continuing and concerning climb in Covid-19 cases across the UK, Europe and the US, not to mention confirmation of 137 local cases in China.
Adding to the doom and gloom were fading hopes of a stimulus package being agreed ahead of the fast-approaching US election.
At 8.20, the blue chip benchmark was 0.26% lower at 5,845.15, while the FTSE 250 was 0.6% weaker at 18,000.20.
Recently-listed beauty website owner The Hut Group, or THG (THG) as it is officially called, ticked up 4.2% to 695p after upgrading annual revenue guidance following a 39% jump in third quarter sales.
Flagging ‘continued momentum in the fourth quarter to date, THG is now guiding towards annual sales of between £1.48 billion and £1.52 billion, up from its IPO guidance of around £1.43 billion.
Bottling behemoth Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) fizzed up 2% to €33.1 after tabling a €6.5 billion offer to acquire 69.2% of Coca-Cola Amatil, which bottles and distributes Coke in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
Coca-Cola European Partners, the world’s largest coke bottler by revenue, reported a fall in third quarter revenue, though it said volumes improved significantly compared with the second quarter as the lifting of lockdown restrictions boosted demand.
Elsewhere, brownfield developer and housebuilder Inland Homes (INL:AIM) inched 2% higher to 53p despite annual results showing the impact of Covid-19. Investors welcomed news of reduced net debt as well as a fairly upbeat outlook statement from Inland.
‘Whilst the general economic outlook remains uncertain, there is a fundamental shortage of high-quality, affordable housing across the UK and particularly in the South and South East of England which creates a sustained demand for our land assets, homes and expertise,’ said the company.
Argentina-focused oil company President Energy (PPC:AIM) rallied 5.1% to 1.55p, even as it swung to a first-half loss pinned on a steep fall in crude prices. On a more positive note, President Energy’s average monthly revenue for the first two months of the third quarter was $2.6 million, a substantial increase on the $1.5 million per month average for the second quarter.
Financial services group WH Ireland (WHI:AIM) added 4.1% to 38.5p as it swung to its first half year profit in five years. Chief executive Phillip Wale insisted ‘the momentum we have seen in the first half, alongside a robust capital and cash position, gives us a strong platform for the second half.’
Flooring retailer United Carpets (UCG:AIM) surged 15.4% higher to 3.75p as its revenue showed signs of recovery since it reopened its 56 stores on 22 May. Like-for-like sales for the 19 weeks to 1 October rose 24%, meaning the company had recovered much of the ground lost during the UK’s national lockdown, when virtually no revenue was generated.