UK stocks broadly flat on fears of extended lockdown

by Jonathan Adams
UK stocks

The FTSE 100 rose just 0.12% to 6,720.85 early on, amid fears that Britain’s third nationwide lockdown would be extended

UK stocks were broadly flat on Wednesday, the FTSE 100 edging a mere 0.12% higher to 6,720.85 early on, as soaring Covid-19 cases stoked fears that Britain’s third nationwide lockdown won’t be ending any time soon, thus tempering US stimulus hopes.

Oil prices rose thanks to the weaker dollar and expectations the incoming administration across the pond will deliver massive stimulus spending that should lift fuel demand and draw down crude stocks.

In corporate news, luxury goods brand Burberry bounced up 4.8% to £18.22, despite reporting a 9% decline in third quarter retail like-for-like sales.

Investors focused on strong double digit growth in mainland China as well as a robust hike in full price sales driven by new, younger customers and repeat customers.

Electrical goods retailer Dixons Carphone slipped 0.8% lower to 122.4p, despite reporting an 11% leap in like-for-like electricals revenue over the peak Christmas period as strong momentum in online sales helped offset the impact of shuttered stores owing to the pandemic.

Alex Baldock-bossed Dixons Carphone also assured it expects to deliver full year profits in line with market expectations.

Also in demand was WH Smith, bid up 7.1% to £16.55 on news of a better than anticipated Christmas delivered in spite of evolving Covid restrictions.

The retailer’s high street business delivered a better than expected Christmas with sales in December at 92% of 2019 levels and the online businesses continuing to serve up ‘significant year on year growth’, though December sales in the hard-pressed travel business came in at just 36% of 2019 levels.

Elsewhere, specialised products and services supplier Diploma sparked up 4.8% to £22.34 on news of a 24% surge in first quarter revenue driven by an ‘excellent’ contribution from the recently acquired Windy City Wire business.

Workspace rental group IWG cheapened 2.6% to 326.2p after the company warned its anticipated recovery in 2021 would be delayed by the pandemic and related lockdowns.

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