UK stocks retreated on Friday after a big jump in Covid-19 cases was reported yesterday and European policymakers sounded a cautious note on the economic outlook going into year-end.

At midday the FTSE 100 was down 27 points or 0.4% at 6,312 points. Domestic stocks such as banks and house builders gained while overseas earners including energy stocks fell as the pound continued to strengthen against the dollar.

Brent crude oil prices slipped back 0.4% lower to $43.10 per barrel while gold prices inched-up 0.2% to $1,880 per ounce.

NEWS ROUND-UP

Construction group Galliford Try (GFRD) said it expected to return to profit and resume its dividend in the first half of its fiscal year as productivity remained at near-normal levels during the second national lockdown. Shares surged 22% to a three-month high of 100p.

Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) said it had acquired a prime temperature controlled distribution unit in Southampton for £44.2 million with a net yield of 5.24%.The building is let to Tesco TSCO (TSCO) on a 25-year lease expiring January 2021.

The consideration will be financed through £24.2 million of existing resources and the issue of 12.1 million new shares to the seller at a price of 164.38p. Shares dipped 1.6% to 162p.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund (SONG) confirmed the acquisition of 50% of Rick James’ publishing interests, writers’ share, neighbouring rights and recorded masters share of income in his catalogue comprising 97 songs.

James’ album ‘Street Songs’ spent 78 weeks on the US R&B chart, including 20 weeks at Number 1, and included the global hit ‘Super Freak’. As a producer, he worked with Eddie Murphy and The Temptations.

The catalogue was acquired using proceeds from the company’s July C share fundraising. Shares gained 0.6% to 117.5p.

Meanwhile rival music rights firm Round Hill Music (RHM) enjoyed its first day of trading as 282 million shares were admitted to the market. Shares traded flat at $1.01.

Schroder Oriental Income Fund (SOI) said it had increased its annual dividend again, drawing ‘modestly’ on revenue reserves to cover the 7% fall in revenue earnings per share during the year. Dividends declared by the company over the year totalled 10.3p.

It confirmed that remaining revenue reserves were equivalent to nearly eight months of the dividend at current levels. Shares dropped 1% to 242p.

In a trading statement specialist infection prevention and control company Byotrol (BYOT:AIM) said it expected results for the year to 31 March 2021 to meet current market expectations.

The company reported that trading remained at healthy levels, across all business units and product sales, sending the shares up 4.9% to 648p.

Shares in respiratory drug discovery company Synairgen (SNG:AIM) jumped 39% higher to 140p after its SNG001 trial data was published in the peer-reviewed Lancet journal which showed positive results in hospitalised patients.

Iron castings and machining group Castings (CGS:AIM) said performance had gradually improved after swinging to a first-half loss as the pandemic disrupted output in the first two months of the first half of the year.

For the six months ended 30 September 2020, Castings swung to a pre-tax loss of £0.63 million, compared with a profit of £7.34 million a year earlier, as sales fell to £41.7 million from £73.1 million. Shares dipped 0.9% to 330p.

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Issue Date: 13 Nov 2020