UK shares started Wednesday on the back foot with investors still wary of climbing Covid-19 cases in Europe and elsewhere, while bracing for a key update on the state of the US economy from the Fed on Thursday.
9.30am, the benchmark FTSE 100 was down 0.15% at 6,027.96, although mid-caps were firmer. The FTSE 250 added 0.35% to 17,638.75.
LOW BAR BEAT SURPRISE
Subprime lender Provident Financial (PVR) rallied 10% to 215.3p despite swinging to a first-half loss and scrapping its interim dividend, as its revenue fell and impairment charges grew amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Provident, however, said it had nevertheless performed better than expected and had repaid furlough support to the UK government.
Mining company Polymetal International (POLY) firmed 0.2% to £19.56, having hiked its dividend after its first-half earnings more than doubled on the back of higher gold and silver prices.
Polymetal declared a dividend for the six months through July of 40c per share, up from 20c on-year.
Smaller rival Hummingbird Resources (HUM) jumped 5.0% to 35.7p as it swung to a first-half profit, also on the back of rising gold prices.
Cruise operator Carnival (CCL) rose 1.9% to 992p, even as it cancelled yet more services, this time at its Princess Cruises unit, citing border restrictions and uncertainty over airline travel.
Bus and rail company Go-Ahead (GOG) advanced 0.7% to 654.78p after it won a two-year contract extension to continue operating around 450 buses in the Loyang region of Singapore.
SMALL CAP WRAP
Argentina-focused oil company President Energy (PRES:AIM) jumped 9.9% to 1.92p on announcing that it had entered into a drilling contract for two new wells scheduled to commence later this year.
President also announced that discussions had recommend with a 'national oil company' regarding the potential sale of a stake in President's Pirity asset in Paraguay.
Tech company Vianet (VNET:AIM) added 1.2% to 92.34p, having announced that trading for the first four months of its financial year had been ahead of revenue and profit forecasts revised due to Covid-19.
Vianet is heavily exposed to a UK pub and restaurant sector that has shown recovery signs since lockdowns were eased.
Kidney disease diagnostics group Renalytix AI (RENX:AIM) added 2.7% to 588p on news that it had filed a submission seeking clearance of its KidneyIntelX product with the US Food and Drug Administration.