UK stocks traded lower on Tuesday as renewed weakness in US technology shares and a sharp sell-off in crude oil outweighed a slew of positive corporate earnings updates.

At 4.30pm the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 6 points or 0.1% at 5,931, as the S&P500 and Nasdaq 100 indices lost ground for a third day after Monday's market holiday.

Also, crude oil prices fell heavily with Brent crude down almost 6% at $39.55 to trade below $40 per barrel for the first time since late June.

GAINERS

Sports fashion retailer JD Sports (JD.) was the biggest gainer on the blue-chip index, climbing 8.7% to 787p, having reinstated full-year guidance following an improved performance since its stores re-opened.

JD Sports, which posted a slump in first-half profit, said it expected to notch a headline pre-tax profit for the full year of at least £265m, well above the £165m consensus analyst forecast.

Packaging company DS Smith (SMDS) was a close second, rising 7.9% to 295p after announcing that it expected to declare an interim dividend amid an improvement in its like-for-like corrugated box volume performance.

Information services company Experian (EXPN) firmed 4.4% to £29.22 having upgraded its outlook on second-quarter performance following stronger trading in July and August.

Industrial equipment hire company Ashtead (AHT) added 0.6% to £27.08 despite posting a 38% slump in first-quarter profit amid a 7% fall in revenue and guiding for a fall in annual revenue in mid-to-high single digit percentage terms.

Outside the FTSE, Royal Mail (RMG) rallied 25% to 218p after it upgraded its annual revenue expectations as the Covid-19 crisis drove a spike in demand for parcels.

At the same time, Royal Mail warned poor letter volumes and increased costs meant it would still post a 'material' loss this year.

The company said it would not become profitable without 'substantial' change to a business it said still had outdated working practices, with too many parcels sorted by hand.

Animal genetics company Genus (GNS) added 10% to £39.25 having upped its dividend 5% after reporting a rise in profit, led by its porcine business.

Tonic water purveyor Fevertree (FEVR:AIM) rose 1.2% to £21.45 despite booking a 38% drop in first-half profit to £21.7m.

LOSERS

Aviation services provider Signature Aviation (SIG) descended 1.5% to 265p as it swung to a first-half loss and scrapped its dividend after the pandemic grounded many of its clients' aircraft.

On a more upbeat note, Signature said it expected to post a better performance in the second half amid a recovery in flight activity.

Budget airline EasyJet (EZJ) dived 5% to 595p as it cut its capacity guidance for the fourth quarter following the introduction of new Covid-19 quarantine measures in Europe.

House builder Vistry (VTY) shed 6% to 598p as it also posted a first-half loss after lockdowns hit construction markets, though it said production levels were now back to near normal levels.

Vistry said it expected to achieve a pre-tax profit for the full year of £130m-to-£140m.

Component supplier to the aerospace, defence and energy sectors Meggitt (MGGT) slid 7% to 279p as it swung to a first-half loss after the Covid-19 crisis devastated the commercial airline sector.

Meggitt said it had decided not to pay an interim dividend in order to retain cash, manage net debt levels and preserve flexibility.

Builders' merchant Travis Perkins (TPK) also dropped 7% to £11.38 after it swung to a first-half loss and scrapped its dividend following a slump in construction activity caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The company confirmed that the demerger of its Wickes DIY business had been paused until markets become more stable and predictable.

Find out how to deal online from £1.50 in a SIPP, ISA or Dealing account.

Issue Date: 08 Sep 2020