UK stocks tracked sideways in early trading on Wednesday as investors awaited an update from the Federal Reserve about the outlook for the US economy. At 8.39, the FTSE 100 was ever so slightly lower, off 0.15% at 6,096.30 points.

E-commerce company The Hut (THG), the Manchester-based owner of the Lookfantastic website, surged 27% higher to 635p, having priced its IPO at 500p, as conditional dealings on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) began.

Housebuilder Redrow (RDW) cheapened 2.6% to 444.5p after reporting a 66% slump in annual profits as the pandemic weighed on the construction sector. Redrow scrapped its final dividend, although the company added that, based on trading to date and its forward order book, it expects to resume dividend payments in 2021.

Redrow also flagged an encouraging start to the new financial year. Executive chairman John Tutte said: ‘We brought forward an order book of £1.42 billion: up 39%, and reservations, in terms of value, in the first eleven weeks of the new financial year, are 12% ahead.’

Construction company Galliford Try (GFRD) gained 10.9% to 97.52p after it prudently skipped the dividend for the year to June to conserve cash and insisted it has continued to trade well despite a difficult market backdrop.

The company also stressed it entered the new financial year with a ‘high-quality, carefully risk managed order book’ of £3.2 billion and with 90% of the new financial year’s planned revenue secured.

Elsewhere, Energean (ENOG) surged 14% higher to 595.5p after signing additional gas sales agreements for its flagship Karish project.

Chief executive Mathios Rigas insisted: ‘The new contracts we signed today further strengthen our secured revenues stream, which is well-insulated against future commodity price fluctuations, and provide cash flows that will support our strategic goal of paying a sustainable dividend to our shareholders.’

Café, bar, and restaurant operator Loungers (LGRS:AIM) leapt 14.4% higher to 175p, even as it reported wider annual losses after government-imposed lockdowns forced the company to halt operations.

The positive news is that since reopening its sites, Loungers’ performance has rebounded with like-for-like sales growing 30% from 4 July to 13 September.

Employment background verification play Clearstar (CLSU:AIM) rocketed 18.5% higher to 38.5p after recommending a £14.7 million takeover from Hanover Investors. The 40p-a-share offer, which values Clearstar at about £14.7 million, represents a 23% premium to the undisturbed share price.

Premium performance nutrition company Science in Sport (SIS:AIM) ticked up 1.4% to 36.5p as the company reported a narrowed first half underlying operating loss as well as a continued improvement in trading in July and August.

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Issue Date: 16 Sep 2020