London’s FTSE 100 closed in positive territory on Wednesday after investors largely shrugged off news that a leading Covid-19 vaccine trial was put on hold because a recipient developed a serious unexplained illness.
Sentiment was buoyed by some more positive earnings updates and dividend revivals, allowing investors to put worries over Brexit and the impact of the UK’s new restrictions on gatherings to one side.
The blue chip benchmark index ended the session up 82.5 points, or 1.39%, at 6,012.84.
AstraZeneca (AZN), which is developing a vaccine with Oxford University, said in a statement to media groups that illnesses can happen by chance in large trials, but had to be investigated to ensure the safety of the vaccine. Shares in the pharmaceutical company finished 0.5% higher at £83.86.
Computacenter (CCC) rose 4.1% to £22.70, having resumed dividend payments after first-half profit jumped on Covid-19-related cost cuts and an uptick in revenue.
Computacenter declared an interim dividend of 12.3p per share, up from 10.1p on-year.
Oil company Tullow Oil (TLW) tumbled 17.5% to 16p, as it swung to a deep first-half loss after output and crude prices both fell and it wrote down the value of its assets.
Tullow's pre-tax losses for the six months through June amounted to $1.44 billion, compared to a profit of $268.4 million in the prior year. Net debt climbed to $3.02 billion.
Also reinstating its dividend was concrete levelling technology supplier Somero Enterprises (SOM:AIM), which rallied 25.3% to 260p, despite reporting a 29% fall in first-half profit.
Somero reinstated its deferred 2019 final dividend of $0.207 per share. It also declared an interim dividend of $0.04 per share, down 30% on-year, citing a strong financial position.
Music rights investor Hipgnosis Songs Fund (SONG) was unchanged at 122p, despite upping its dividend target to 5.5p per year, citing the reliability of its income and growing global streaming revenues.
Alternative asset and corporate services provider Sanne (SNN) cheapened 3% to 650p despite posting a large rise in first-half profit, which it said reflected the resilience of its client book amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sanne declared an interim dividend of 4.8p, up 2.1% on-year.
Military equipment supplier Avon Rubber (AVON) firmed 6.3% to £39.50 on news that it had agreed to acquire helmet group Team Wendy for $130 million, while reaffirming earnings guidance.
Team Wendy supplies helmets and helmet liner and retention systems for military and first responder markets.
Fashion retailer Quiz (QUIZ:AIM) fell 6% to 7p after reporting a 77% sales slump for the first five months of its financial year, although there was also news of recent sales improvements as well as restructuring progress from the embattled womenswear brand.
Advertising company S4 Capital (SFOR) added 3.9% to trade at 374p, having swung to a modest first-half profit after acquisitions helped it build its client base and boost revenue.
Video games publisher Frontier Developments (FDEV:AIM) finished 15p higher at £24 after posting annual revenue and profit slightly ahead of expectations and setting out its long-term vision.
Gem miner Petra Diamonds (PDL) dropped 13.8% to 1.72p on announcing that a law firm had filed court claims accusing the company and its Williamson mine in Tanzania of human rights violations.