UK stocks traded marginally lower on Friday as investors mulled growing trade tensions and markets awaited the latest US non-farm payroll figures for an insight into the world’s leading economy.
At midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index edged down 5 points to 6,022 as weakness in banks and energy stocks offset a strong performance by companies reporting earnings.
Generic drugs company Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) was the largest gainer, leaping 11.1% to £23.98 after it upgraded its outlook on injectables as first-half results beat expectations on increased demand for Covid-19-related products.
Property portal Rightmove (RMV) was the second biggest gainer, climbing 8.8% to 628p despite booking a 43% slump in first-half profit and scrapping its interim dividend after the Covid-19 crisis prompted it to offer discounts to its customers.
Rightmove said traffic to its website rose 5% helped by a stronger-than-expected increase since the reopening of the English property market in May. Stamp duty holidays offered by the UK government also gave grounds for cautious optimism, it added.
Wealth manager Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) inched up 0.7% to 265p, having swung to a first-half loss after revenue slumped on the back of outflows from its funds last year.
However the asset management giant held its interim dividend steady at 7.3p per share, citing the strength of its balance sheet, and vowed to press ahead with the remainder of its £400m share buy-back programme.
Small-cap bonding products manufacturer Scapa (SCPA) soared 35% to 124p after it forecast a full-year trading profit around 10% ahead of market expectations, having delivered first-quarter revenue 'well ahead' of its Covid-19 scenario plan.
Micro-cap security and data group Newmark Security (NWT) was another high-flier, jumping 16% to 1.42p on announcing that it had attained two new customers in the US via its Human Capital Management division, which trades there as GT Clocks.
Inter-dealer broker TP ICAP (TCAP) was a major faller, dropping 12.2% to 295p after its first-half profit fell 6% and it held its interim dividend steady at 5.6p per share.
In contrast to many other trading platforms, the company said trading activity had slowed in July and was materially lower than last year’s level. It also said it would defer its investment plans due to uncertainty over the rest of this year.
Life sciences investor Syncona (SYNC) dipped 0.4% to 256p following news that portfolio company Freeline Therapeutics had priced its initial public offering implying a value for the company of around $158.8m (£120.8m).
Syncona said that following the IPO it would retain a 49% stake in Freeline, having agreed to invest $24.3m (£18.5m). Freeline was a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on gene therapy targeting the liver.
Wind farm investor Renewable Infrastructure Group (TRIG) edged 0.2% lower to 136.8p on reaffirming its guidance for a higher annual dividend, despite its net asset value slipping 1.7% in the first half.
The group said it was still targeting a full-year dividend of 6.76p per share, up from 6.64p in 2019, having declared a first-half payout of 3.35p.
FOR A LIST OF FTSE 100 GAINERS AND LOSERS SEE HERE