UK stocks opened higher on Wednesday as index heavyweight oil stocks Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) and BP (BP.) gained 2.7% and 3.7% respectively after Saudi Arabia agreed to reduce output by more than expected.

Brent crude futures rose 1% to $54 per barrel, their highest level since February 2020.

US stocks weakened overnight after the Democrats looked to be on the verge of winning both senate seats in Georgia.

At 08:40 the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was 1% higher at 6,661 points.

CORPORATE NEWS

Information services and events company Informa (INF) said 2020 revenues were expected to be within the range of £1.65 billion to £1.68 billion and group adjusted operating profit within the range of £250 million to £270 million.

Its three event-led businesses - Informa Markets, Informa Connect and Informa Tech - all faced significant disruption to physical events activities in 2020.

The company also confirmed the appointment of John Rishton as chair, succeeding Derek Mapp, starting June 2021. The shares added 1.75% to 546.5p.

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (AZN) said its diabetes drug Farxiga had been granted priority review in the US to treat chronic kidney disease in adults with and without type-2 diabetes.

The company said, ‘this decision brings us a step closer to delivering this new treatment option for the millions of patients living with chronic kidney disease in the US.’ The shares dropped 0.7% to £73.9.

Digital automotive marketplace Auto Trader (AUTO) said government-imposed lockdown restrictions across the UK were expected to impact volumes in January and February.

The company added that its decision to offer customers advertising packages for free in December 2020 and February 2021 would result in monthly operating loss of between £5 million to £7 million. The shares fell 0.6% to 97p.

High-street bakery chain Greggs (GRG) said trading in December was initially more robust but fell back with the introduction of tighter restrictions later in the month.

In the five weeks to 2 January like-for-like sales in company-managed shops averaged 85.7% of the 2019 level.

The company said it expected a full year pre-tax loss of up to up to £15 million and forecast that profit would not return to pre-COVID levels until 2022 at the earliest owing to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The shares jumped 4% higher to £18.5.

Music intellectual property rights fund Hypnosis (SONG) said it had purchased 50% of Neil Young's worldwide copyright and income interests in his entire song catalogue comprising 1,180 songs.

Neil Young rose to prominence in the 60's and 70's and is widely considered one of the most important and influential songwriters of all time with his phenomenal success continuing through to the present day. The shares added 0.4% to 123.5p.

Power generation company Aggreko (AGK) said it had signed the necessary contract revisions with The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that increased the contract value to $315 million from an initial value of about $200 million.

The company reiterated its pre-tax profit guidance for 2021 of £170-to-190 million, which it said assumes the Games proceed as planned at this increased overall contract value. The shares added 1% to 646p.

Cruise company Carnival (CCL) said P&O Cruises Australia had extended its rolling pause in operations in New Zealand to departures on and before 25 April 2021, citing the ongoing impact of pandemic-led restrictions.

The cruise line said it would return to New Zealand for a dedicated 150-day season in July 2022. The shares added 1.4% to £13.05.

Shares in payments group Equals (EQLS:AIM) shot 16.6% higher to 31p after the company said it expected annual adjusted earnings and revenue to top market expectations amid ongoing momentum, led by 'strong' performance in B2B products.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are expected to be around £1.0 million for 2020, comfortably ahead of market expectations of £0.55 million.

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Issue Date: 06 Jan 2021