Indecision gripped the FTSE on Wednesday, which closed almost flat ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s vote on interest rates this evening.

No new policy announcements are expected from the meeting, with it widely believed the central bank is still trying to figure out its next step, and that the meeting in September will be the next point of action.

But investors will still on the lookout this evening for any indication on what that action later down the line might be.

Wall Street was in a more positive mood than European markets however with the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq all getting off to strong starts.

But the UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 index closed just 0.036% higher to 6,131.46.

Barclays (BARC) slumped 6.1% to 105p after its profit more than halved on the back of a £3.7bn credit impairment charge linked to the coronavirus crisis.

The bank said impairment charges in the second half would be below the first, but still above levels experienced in recent years.

Mining titan Rio Tinto (RIO) rose 0.7% to £47.98, even as it booked a 20% drop in first-half profit amid disruptions from the pandemic.

Rio Tinto also lifted its interim dividend, by 3%, citing a strong balance sheet.

Clothing retailer Next (NXT) jumped 7.68% to £56.66 as it upgraded its annual profit guidance, having experienced a lower-than-expected fall in second-quarter sales.

Next's full-price sales for the three months through June fell 28% on-year, which the company said was 'much better' than it had expected.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) fell 3.17 to £15.53 despite it and partner Sanofi agreeing a deal to supply up to 60m doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine to the UK Government.

House builder Taylor Wimpey (TW.) sank 8.1% to 122.2p on swinging to a first-half loss after Covid-19 lockdowns forced the temporary closure of its sites.

Taylor Wimpey did not declare an interim dividend, but said it expected to recommence dividend payments in 2021, with regards to the 2020 final dividend, amid a recovery in demand.

Luxury car marker Aston Martin Lagonda (AML) revved 12.95% higher to 56p despite its first-half losses widening sharply as sales plunged.

Aston Martin said more than 90% of its dealer network globally was now open following an easing of lockdowns.

Medical technology group Smith and Nephew (SN.) fell 1.8% to £16, having swung to a first-half loss after restrictions were placed on elective surgery in the fight against Covid-19.

Healthcare facility investor Primary Health Properties (PHP) gained 2.9% to 155p as it upped its dividend after it swung to a first-half profit, on the back of higher rental income and positive property revaluations.

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa (SKG) rallied 4.75% to £26, even as it posted a 16% fall in first-half profit after revenue was hit by weaker demand owing to the coronavirus crisis, adverse foreign exchange movements and a fall in box prices.

Smurfit Kappa, however, declared an interim dividend of 80.9c per share, which was the equivalent amount of its withdrawn 2019 final dividend.

Engineering and industrial software group Aveva (AVV) gained 2.5% to £42.63 even as its revenue fell 3.5% in the fiscal first quarter.

Budget carrier Wizz Air (WIZZ) ascended 3.76% to £35.25, despite it swinging to a deep first-quarter loss after the Covid-19 crisis forced it to ground most of its fleet.

Wizz said it was operating at about 70% of capacity at the end of June, compared to an average of 11.5% in the first quarter.

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Issue Date: 29 Jul 2020