UK stocks slumped in early trade on Friday, the FTSE 100 down 113 points or 1.9% to 5,902.3, after retail sales tanked in April and China proposed a new security law in Hong Kong that stoked trade tensions with the US.

Luxury goods leader Burberry (BRBY) bucked the trend, adding 2% to trade at £14.02 as the trench coats-to-cashmere scarves seller said year-to-date sales in Mainland China and Korea were already ahead of the prior year and ‘continuing to show an improving trend’.

However, Burberry also pulled the final dividend for the year to March 2020 as annual profits plunged and warned the impact from store closures would severely dent performance in the first quarter of the new financial year.

Heading in the opposite direction was Go-Ahead (GOG), the bus operator slumping 17% to £10.21 on a profit warning caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel demand. Operating profit for the year ending 27 June 2020 is now expected to be in the range of £63m to £75m, which will mark a sharp year-on-year decline for the transport group.

Water utility United Utilities (UU.) slipped 3.4% to 890.6p as it booked a 71% fall in annual profit, weighed down by charges related to the crisis.

The company nevertheless lifted its dividend for the year to 42.6p, up 3.2% including a final payout of 28.4p, although it said its dividend for the current financial year was under review.

Measurement instrument specialist Spectris (SXS) shed 4.5% to £25.68 as its sales slumped 20% in the first four months of the year, partly owing to the coronavirus crisis.

Frasers (FRAS) cheapened 2.4% to 257p, despite owner Mike Ashley noting the Government’s proposals for the phased reopening of retail stores, ‘which whilst not guaranteed may potentially see the company’s stores begin to open from June 1st 2020’.

Media platform Future (FUTR) firmed 3.7% to £11.32 as it reported a surge in first half profit as the lockdowns triggered an acceleration in online user growth, although chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne cautioned ‘the downturn due to COVID-19 makes market conditions uncertain for the remainder of the year’.

Financial services company Close Brothers (CBG) fell 3.6% to £10.42 after it flagged a jump in bad loan provisions across its businesses due to the impact of COVID-19.

Food and events guide specialists Time Out (TMO:AIM) cheapened 2.4% to 40p after it announced a dilutive placing and open offer to raise up to £49m, as well as a debt restructuring, to help it ride out a coronavirus-led slump in advertising and the restaurant industry.

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Issue Date: 22 May 2020