UK stocks edged lower into the close on Wednesday as investors awaited clues to the speed of a possible US rate rise from the publication of the latest meeting notes from the Federal Reserve.

At 4.45pm, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 12 points or less than 0.2% at 7,169, with losses for miners offsetting gains for house builders after more strong data on home prices.

COMPANY NEWS

Persimmon (PSN) added 1.3% to £29.10 as it posted a 64% surge in first-half profit to £480 million after an easing of Covid-19 restrictions allowed it to complete more homes.

Persimmon declared first-half dividends of 235p per share, up from 110p year-on-year, and reaffirmed guidance for around 10% growth in home completions this year.

Infrastructure group Balfour Beatty (BBY) fell 7% to 297p despite returning to profitability in the first half as it continued to recover from the pandemic.

Balfour Beatty declared an interim dividend of 3p per share, up 43% on the corresponding pre-pandemic dividend for 2019. It also raised next year's margin target for its support service business from between 3% and 5% to 6% to 8%, implying an increase in group earnings.

Shares in resources company Hochschild Mining (HOC) were flat at 152p after it reported improved first-half profit as a jump in production amid rising commodity prices bolstered revenue.

Hochschild Mining said it expected to announce an interim dividend by the end of the month.

PAYMENTS RALLY BACK  

Payments group Network International (NETW) climbed 10.6% to 392p as it swung to a first-half profit after it processed more transactions and hosted a higher number of cards.

German business park investor Sirius Real Estate (SRE) firmed 2.6% to 125p after it notarised or completed the acquisition of four business parks and one land parcel for a combined €84.8 million.

Industrial flow equipment manufacturer Rotork (ROR) gained 1.0% to 339p as it launched a £50 million share buyback.

Diagnostics group Novacyt (NCYT:AIM) jumped 20% to 363p on announcing that its first-half revenue had jumped 50%, underpinned by demand for its Covid-19 tests.

Novacyt reiterated full-year revenue guidance of €100 million, excluding sales from the UK's Department of Health and Social Care.

Oil company SDX Energy (SDX:AIM) sank 12% to 12.75p after an exploration well in Egypt failed to find gas.

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Issue Date: 18 Aug 2021