UK stocks were trading higher early on in Wednesday’s session as US lawmakers moved closer to agreeing on a new stimulus package for the world’s biggest economy.

Investors also were holding out hope that Britain and the EU could agree on a post-Brexit trade deal before the transition period ends on 1 January.

Meaningful progress on either the stimulus or Brexit fronts could help put the markets on the front foot in the final trading days of 2020, though with gold prices remaining north of $1,850, it appears some investors continue to hedge their bets by putting money into the safe haven.

At 8.40 am, the FTSE 100 was up 1.03% at 6,580.18.

DIXONS CARPHONE RALLIES

In corporate news, electricals-to-mobile phones retailer Dixons Carphone (DC.) sparked up 12.5% to 122.2p as it posted a big rise in first half profit, with strong online sales more than offsetting the forced closure of stores during Covid-19 lockdowns.

The PC World-to-Currys owner also maintained current year and medium term guidance and reported strong current trading, with electricals like-for-like sales up 16% over the six weeks to 12 December despite virus-induced store closures in the UK and Greece.

Distribution and services group Bunzl (BNZL) softened 3.2% to £23.96 after it forecast a fall in revenue next year as sales of Covid-19-related products such as gloves continue to slow.

‘At constant exchange rates the group expects revenue in 2021 to be lower than the current year with minimal benefit from larger Covid-19 related orders, which have strongly supported the performance in 2020,’ cautioned Bunzl.

The company also said it has completed the purchase of Snelling, a Canadian business focused on the sale of cleaning products and industrial and foodservice packaging.

Builders’ merchant and DIY retailer Travis Perkins (TPK) ticked up 5% to £13.63 on the news like-for-like sales grew 8.6% in October and November.

Demand continues to be strong across the DIY market, driving particularly strong sales at Wickes and Toolstation, and Travis Perkins also said it would return business rates relief received as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and repay monies received under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Fashion retailer Superdry (SDRY) strutted 5.9% higher to 254.4p after it announced that chairman Peter Williams will stand down next year and that co-founder Julian Dunkerton has become its chief executive on a permanent basis.

Dunkerton, who has been leading the t-shirts, jackets and hoodies seller on an interim basis, will be supported by the appointment of former Nike and Vans executive Silvana Bonello as chief operating officer.

OTHER NEWS

Oil services company Petrofac (PFC) fell 2.8% to 168.1p as it lifted its cost-cutting target while reiterating guidance for ‘materially lower’ profits in 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic smashed crude markets.

Elsewhere, maintenance building products company Epwin (EPWN:AIM) advanced 9.8% to 97.8p after upgrading its profit outlook following a better than-expected performance since reporting half-year results on 10 September.

Also in demand was computer products maker Concurrent Technologies (CNC:AIM), which surged 15% higher to 111p on the news annual revenues and profitability is expected to be ahead of market expectations with cash generation remaining ‘strong’.

Find out how to deal online from £1.50 in a SIPP, ISA or Dealing account.

Issue Date: 16 Dec 2020