UK stocks eased on Monday ahead of the latest round of talks with the European Union regarding Britain’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the bloc. Early confidence that a deal could be reached quickly has ebbed, with the two sides seemingly as far apart as ever.

Sterling was steady against the US dollar at $1.2560 while Brent crude futures fell for a third session to $42.75 and gold prices continued to climb, touching $1,810 per ounce.

The FTSE 100 index fell 1% to 6,228 points in early trading, weighed down by oil giants BP (BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) which lost 2.3% each to 302p and £12.11 respectively.

Also weaker were hotel firms IHG (IHG), down 3.5% to £37.40, and Whitbread (WTB) down 3% to £22.44 as new cases of Covid-19 continue to spread in the US and in Europe.


Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) gained 2.5% to £94.14 as investors anticipated a positive update later today on the firm’s joint venture with Oxford University to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile shares in respiratory drug maker Synairgen (SNG) leapt 167% to 97.5p after the firm released positive data from trials of its inhaled formulation of interferon beta in hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

Patients who received Synairgen’s SNG001 treatment had a 79% lower risk of developing severe disease and were more than twice as likely to recover from the virus as those on placebo.


Shares in housebuilders Bellway (BWY) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.) advanced 1% apiece after estate agency portal Rightmove (RMV) published its latest UK house price index, which showed a 3.7% increase in average selling prices in July - the steepest rise for three years - after the chancellor temporarily abolished stamp duty on houses worth up to £500,000.

Specialist staffing firm SThree (STEM) dipped 0.9% to 269p after it reported a 7% fall in net fee income to £151.2 million for the six months to 31 May, significantly better than its mainstream rivals.

Asset management consultancy MJ Hudson (MHJ:AIM) traded sideways at 49p following a positive trading update with revenues for the year to 30 June rising 24% to £20.8 million.

Shares in media platform Future (FUTR) rallied 6.9% to £12.93 after the company posted a trading update regarding the integration of TI Media.

Guarantor lender Amigo Holdings (AMGO) was a major loser, falling 26% to 7.2p after it revealed a 7% increase in revenues to £294.2 million but a 9.1% contraction in its net loan book to £643.1 million for the year to 31 March.

The firm also revealed it had taken significant costs and provisions for complaints, totalling £244.3 million, after warning of a ‘material’ hit to its results last month.



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Issue Date: 20 Jul 2020