UK stocks ended modestly higher on Tuesday, despite worries over further lockdowns should a second wave of global Covid-19 cases continue to gain momentum.
Riding to the rescue was the housing sector, which rallied on the back of news the government may extend the Help to Buy scheme beyond December.
The benchmark FTSE 100 closed up 24.38 points, or 0.4%, at 6,129.26, while the FTSE 250 ended the session 0.7% higher at 17,278.20.
High-street bakery chain Greggs (GRG) cheapened 5.9% to £13.73 as the food-to-go retailer swung to a loss, due to shuttered stores hurting sales.
Greggs said its company-managed shops had seen sales improve since reopening, having reached 72% of 2019 levels in the most recent week to 25 July.
Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) edged up 0.8% to £77.81 after booking a 12% rise in first-half profit amid a surge in demand for cleaning products during the Covid-19 crisis.
Reckitt Benckiser, which is behind brands including Lysol cleaners and Nurofen pain killers, held its interim dividend steady at 73p per share, which it said was in line with guidance given in February.
Builders’ merchant and DIY group Travis Perkins (TPK) softened 0.7% to £11.95 as its first-half revenue slumped by a fifth.
It, too, however, said business had continued to recover since lockdowns were eased.
General merchandise retailer B&M European Value Retail (BME) firmed 3.6% to 459p on forecasting its adjusted core earnings to top market consensus expectations following a strong start to the new fiscal year.
In the mining sector, Rio Tinto (RIO) slid 1.2% to £47.84, despite it booking a maiden resource estimate at its Winu copper-gold deposit in Western Australia state that could support the development of an open-pit mine.
Fellow miner Fresnillo (FRES) shed 2.4% to £12.46, even as its first-half profit more than doubled on the back of rising metal prices and lower costs.
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (AZN) rose 4.1% to £90.02 after it reported positive trial results for a drug to treat patients with chronic kidney disease.
Irn-Bru maker A.G. Barr (BAG) advanced 1.4% to 439p despite estimating that revenue would be down by about 12%-to-15% for the year, barring a second nationwide lockdown.
Wealth manager St. James’s Place (STJ) ended 3% higher at 995.5p despite posting a fall in underlying first-half profit alongside a slight rise in net fund inflows.
St. James’s Place it would continue to retain about one third of its previously proposed 2019 final dividend, until the impacts of Covid-19 became clearer.
Banking group Virgin Money UK (VMUK) firmed 3.1% to 100.5p after it further increased its credit provisioning to cover defaults related to the Covid-19 crisis.
Virgin Money UK also reported a 1% fall in third-quarter mortgage lending volumes, offset by a rise in business lending and customer deposits.
Price comparison portal Moneysupermarket.com (MONY) fell 4% to 291.8p after it reported a 15% fall in first-half profit, citing disruptions caused by Covid-19 lockdowns.
Moneysupermarket.com held its interim dividend steady at 3.1p per share.
Greetings cards-to-gift packaging play IG Design (IGR:AIM) firmed 4% to 523p after it raised its full-year dividend and said it was increasingly optimistic about the outlook following a strong start to the year.