The FTSE 100 slipped lower on Thursday following the Federal Reserve’s announcement last night that it was likely to keep interest rates near zero for several years while the global economy recovers from Covid-19.

At 11.25, the blue chip benchmark was 50.4 points, or 0.83%, lower at 6,028.11.

Fed chair Jerome Powell said the central bank would ‘maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy’ until conditions such as employment rates improved.

Clothing retailer Next’s (NXT) sales were down 33% on last year during the first half of 2020 during the “expensive and miserable” pandemic, according to its half-year results.

The company still made a profit before tax of £9 million, down 97% on the first half of last year.

Its shares were up by 3.4% to £63.78 at lunchtime.

Security company G4S (GFS) completed the sale of its conventional cash businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for around £49 million. The sale was completed on 14 September, and the company said it had received approximately 83% of the proceeds.

G4S shares were up slightly by 0.63% to 184.2p.

Wealth manager Brooks Macdonald (BRK:AIM) reported that annual profit rose by more than a quarter on higher margins and increased funds under management. For the year ended 30 June 2020, pre-tax profit rose 26.6% to £10 million as revenue increased 2.7% to a record £108.6 million. Shares were up 0.14% to £17.78 by midday.

Residential property business Grainger (GRI) gained 0.3% to trade at 316.5p after it said Ealing Council had approved a plan to develop new homes for rent in Southall, London.

The scheme, by Connected Living London - the formal partnership between Grainger and Transport for London - will deliver 460 new homes, including 40% affordable housing, across five buildings.

Online trading platform IG Group (IGG) reported a surge in first-quarter revenue as client growth and a ‘high level’ of trading activity continued to underpin performance.

For the three months to 31 August 2020, net trading revenue rose 62% to £209 million year-on-year.

The news boosted the company’s share price by 5.8% to 835.5p.

Gambling company Playtech’s (PTEC) adjusted profit fell 44% in the first half of 2020 compared with the first six months of last year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were €162.3 million, down 16%.

The group’s share price tumbled by 6.6% to 365.7p.

Biotech company Oxford Biomedica (OXB) increased its revenue in the first half of 2020 by 6%, it announced this morning. Bioprocessing and commercial development were particularly strong, posting revenues of £23.4 million, up by 24%.

The company’s shares were up by 1.8% to 850p.

Food packing business Hilton Food (HFG) upped its dividend after reporting that profit increased by more than a fifth in the first half of its fiscal year, led by increased revenue on higher volume growth. Hilton Food’s shares fattened up by 1.3% to £12.14.

Biotechnology company Destiny Pharma (DEST:AIM) reported wider losses on higher costs in the first half of the year. For the half-year ended 30 June 2020, pre-tax losses widened to £2.9 million from £2.4 million year-on-year.

Despite the losses, the company's shares were up 6% to 61.5p.

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Issue Date: 17 Sep 2020