StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened substantially higher on Wednesday after US lawmakers reached agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus package to buffer the world's biggest economy from the still-spreading coronavirus.

Final votes on the package were expected to take place in Washington later on Wednesday.

At 0822, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 93.9 points, or 1.7%, at 5.539.95.

Home builder Persimmon fell 1.1% to £16.745, having scrapped one planned dividend payment and postponed another as it braces for a fall in home completions due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Pest control company Rentokil Initial slumped 11% to 331.1p after it suspended dividend payments and withdrew its previous guidance for 2020.

The suspension of dividend payments included withdrawing Rentokil Initial's final dividend proposed in February.

Water supplier United Utilities rose 2.2% to 815.8p as it guided for higher underlying annual earnings, even as winter storms and an uncertain economic climate weighed on its performance.

With regards to Covid-19, United Utilities said it could make affordability schemes available to customers struggling to pay their bills, but noted its revenue was fixed due to regulations, with any shortfalls recoverable.

Waste management company Biffa dropped 6.4% to 213.5p after it pulled its dividend and warned that the coronavirus pandemic would have a 'material impact' on its performance.

Convenience store operator in travel locations SSP jumped 9.3% to 257.5p, despite it ruling out an interim dividend this year.

SSP also said would issue new shares to bolster its capital position to weather the Covid-19 storm. The the size and pricing of the capital raising would be determined through a book build process.

Technical products and services group Diploma shed 1.3% to £14.1277, on guiding for a 'slightly' weaker-than-expected performance for the first half of the year.

Student accommodation developer Unite firmed 0.8% to 789.5p, even as it scrapped its final dividend and suspended its rental income guidance.

Unite said it would offer to forgo rent for students who choose to return home for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year.

Support services group DCC rose 2.2% to £49.96 on news that it had acquired US-based nutritional products group Amerilab Technologies for about $85m.

Retirement home builder McCarthy & Stone rallied 19% to 57.41p after it claimed cash reduction measures, including pausing new builds, would ensure its business could operate without revenue for about 2.5 years.

Aerospace and defence contractor Meggitt climbed 5.1% to 294.3p as it announced that outgoing chairman Nigel Rudd would stay on until further notice in the interest of continuity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com