UK stocks opened higher on Wednesday after a clutch of positive corporate results and dividend resumptions.

In Asian trading the Shanghai Composite SE index surged 1.4% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.2%.

Gold prices were 0.3% higher at $1,845 an ounce and Brent oil prices were slightly lower at $60.8 a barrel.

At 08.45 am the FTSE 100 was 14 points higher at 6,546 points.

CORPORATE ROUND-UP

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG) said full year revenues fell 6% to €8.5 billion and operating profit before exceptional items fell 13% to €922 million.

However, the company the said the new financial year had started well and reflecting the board’s confidence in prospects for the business, it proposed an 8% increase in the dividend to 87.4 cents per share. The shares gained 3.8% to £36.75.

Advertising company WPP (WPP) said it had acquired Brazilian digital innovation and software engineering group DTI Digital, for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2009, DTI employs 800 people and has a client list including Vale, Localiza and Bayer.

WPP said DTI's digital solutions helped clients become more efficient, digitised and connected to their customers. The shares nudged up 0.2% to 820p.

House builder Persimmon (PSN) said it had identified unsafe cladding materials on legacy high-rise buildings that it had developed and would book a £75 million provision to pay for replacement work.

Persimmon insisted it didn't own the buildings and the legal responsibility and duty to ensure they were safe rested with the current owners. The shares gained 0.5% to £27.97.

In an annual general meeting statement media platform company Future (FUTR) said one in three people in the UK and US read its content in 2020 thanks to a mix of underlying growth in audience engagement and the increased consumption of digital content during the pandemic.

The company also said its acquisition of GoCo Group remained subject to approval via a sanction of the scheme by the court at hearing, which was anticipated to take place on 16 February 2021. The shares added 0.5% to £18.71.

Emerging markets fund manager Ashmore (ASHM) reported a rise in profits and assets under management (AuM) in the first half of the year thanks to strong investment performance.

For the six months ending 31 December 2020, pre-tax profit rose 14% to £150.6 million year-on-year and AuM grew 11% to $93 billion. The shares gained 2.4% to 4921p.

Rental homes provider Grainger (GRI) said rental collection stood at 98% and like-for-like sales were up 2.4% in the first four months through January.

Private rental sector occupancy stood at 90% in line with levels at the end of 2020, following a delay in the anticipated recovery in occupancy in London amid new lockdown restrictions. The shares dipped 0.6% to 268.5p.

Shares in homewares retailer Dunelm (DNLM) jumped 5.5% higher to £13.30 after the firm resumed dividend payments.

For the 26 weeks to 26 December 2020, pre-tax profit rose by £28.8 million to £112.4 million as total sales jumped 23% to £719.4 million.

Digital sales grew by 111% in the period and represented 35% of total sales, up from 20% last year. The company will pay an interim dividend of 12 pence per share.

Also resuming dividend payments was house builder Redrow (RDW) after it notched up an 11% rise in first-half profit, underpinned by a recovery in demand partly driven by the looming end of the UK government's Help-to-Buy subsidy. The shares dropped 3.3% to 552p.

Insurance company Lancashire (LRE) said full year pre-tax profit to 31 December 2020 fell to $5.9 million from $119.5 million even as gross premiums written increased by 15.2% year on year to $814.1 million.

The company declared a final dividend of $0.10 per common share. The shares added 2.3% to 161.5p

Shares in the manufacturer of scientific products company SDI (SDI:AIM) surged 25% to 150p after it said it expected adjusted pre-tax profit to exceed £6.7 million for the year to 30 April 2021, up 54% year-on-year.

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Issue Date: 10 Feb 2021