UK stocks traded lower at midday on Friday following weaker European markets as risk aversion was the order of the day amid rising volatility after news that Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19, adding an extra element of political uncertainty in the US just a month before the presidential election.

At 12:00, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 0.8%, at 5,835 points.

Trump, 74, and first lady Melania Trump have both contracted Covid-19 and put themselves in quarantine. They were tested after close aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the disease.

CORPORATE NEWS

Logistics company Wincanton (WIN) rallied 6.4% to 222.5p as it stuck by its recently upgraded annual profit guidance and said it had made a new pension agreement that included a reduced deficit.

In a trading update for the six months through September, Wincanton said its guidance outlined on 9 September for results in the current year to be ‘materially ahead’ of market expectations remained unchanged.

Cancer and infectious diseases focused Scancell (SCLP:AIM) jumped 5% to 17.6p on announcing that it had chosen Cobra Biologics to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine.

A collaboration agreement between the companies covered production of plasmid DNA needed to generate the DNA-based vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, for use in a phase-one clinical trial in 2021.

Marine contractor James Fisher and Sons (FSJ) jumped 2.6% higher to £11.7, after winning a multi-million-pound five-year service contract from the UK's Royal Navy to ensure the operational readiness of its life-support diving equipment.

Regional office and industrial property investor Regional REIT (RGL) added 0.5% to 65.9p after it sold the Juniper Park industrial warehouse in Basildon for £32.7 million.

The sale price reflected an uplift of 59% from the acquisition price, including subsequent capital expenditure, and 3.9% above the 30 June 2020 valuation.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (AZN) dipped 0.3% to £84.5, despite its diabetes drug being granted breakthrough therapy designation in the US to treat patients with chronic kidney disease with and without type-2 diabetes.

No safety or efficacy issues were raised, said the company, which added that it was working to address the regulator's concerns.

Media platform Future (FUTR) fell 0.3% to £19.5 following news that it had acquired US-based digital entertainment publisher CinemaBlend, for an undisclosed sum.

CinemaBlend provided a discussion platform for films and TV shows, both on streaming services such as Netflix and linear TV such as HBO.

Gold miner Centamin (CEY) sank 19% to 163.3p on downgraded its production guidance, having deferred mining operations at its Sukari project in Egypt after it detected movement in waste material.

Centamin said production for the fourth quarter would fall to about 70,000 ounces.

Pharmaceutical company Ovoca Bio (OVB:AIM) tumbled 23% to 10.3p after Russian regulators rejected its marketing authorisation request for a treatment for decreased sexual desire in women, administered by nasal spray.

Ovoca Bio said the Russian Ministry of Health had identified ‘certain issues relating to the chemistry, manufacturing and controls and labelling sections of the marketing authorisation submission dossier’.

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Issue Date: 02 Oct 2020