The FTSE 100 was 1% higher at 5,703 points as global stock markets took a breather after the wild swings in sentiment following the crash in oil prices earlier this week.
Stocks in Asia were mixed as investors continued to worry about the pace at which global economies could open. The SEE composite closed up 0.6% while the Nikkei 225 was 0.7% lower.
Brent crude traded 6% lower at $20.5 while gold prices were 0.6% higher at $1,695, while the pound was trading 0.3% firmer against the US dollar at $1.23.
Copper producer Antofagasta (ANTO) said it expects production to be at the lower end of the range between 725-to-755 thousand tonnes due to the implementation of social distances measures. The shares rallied 2.5% to 750p.
The company highlighted a strong balance sheet with $2.5bn of cash putting it in a ‘strong position’ to confront operational uncertainty.
Shares in building materials company CRH (CRH) were 4% higher at £22.4 after seeing a positive start to the year with first-quarter like-for-like sales up 3%. The firm has suspended all non-essential expenditures and reduced working capital in-line with lower activity levels.
Energy group Drax (DRX) reported trading in-line with expectations for the first-quarter to 31 March and includes a $60m estimated impact from coronavirus, from lower power demand and bad debt risks. The firm confirmed the 2019 dividend payment of 9.5p per share. The shares traded 5% higher at 204p.
The company, however, said it would pay a final dividend while touting a 'very strong' balance sheet, with net cash at year end of £128.3m.
For the year ended 31 December 2019, pre-tax profit fell to £72.5m from £75.6m. The shares traded 7% higher at £14.6.
Homebuilder Bellway (BWY) said its directors had agreed to a voluntary, temporary 20% reduction in basic salary and fees effective from 1st April until 31st May 2020, in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and its extraordinary impact on the business and the wider economy.
The proceeds from the reduction in salary and fees would be donated to various charities.
For the year ended 29 February 2020, pre-tax profit rose 54% to £92.2m as revenue increased 44% to £1.2bn. The shares were 3.5% ahead at 280p.
Insurer Hiscox (HSX) said if the current travel restrictions last six-months from March 2020, it would expect to pay net claims up to $150m, with a further $25m if they were extended. The shares nudged-up 0.7% to 803p.
Revenue rose 16% to £76.9m and adjusted pre-tax profit rose 27% to £12.1m, helping to push the shares up 6% to 625p.
One of the biggest share risers today were biotherapeutics company Avacta (AVCT:AIM) which traded 30% higher at 71p after it said its partnership with Cytiva to produce a rapid coronavirus test was moving ahead of schedule.