StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened substantially lower on Friday as Covid-19 cases continued to pile up around the world and more local companies canned planned dividends.

At 0820, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 217.18 points, or 3.7%, at 5.598.55.

Gambling company Flutter Entertainment sank 6.4% to £69.36 on announcing that it would pay its 2019 dividend in shares and cancel a pro-rated payout related to its takeover of Stars Group.

Domino's Pizza sagged 3.0% to 271.74p, having cancelled its dividend despite seeing a surge in takeover orders as people hunkered down at home in self-isolation.

Clothing retailer Next descended 8.1% to £41.41 after it closed its online, warehousing and distribution operations in the wake of the worsening Covid-19 crisis.

Power utility SSE slumped 6.0% to £13.095, having warned its annual earnings would be at the lower end of its guidance range, even before including any impact from the Covid-19 crisis.

SSE also had some better news: It kept its dividend plans intact, though it warned future payouts were under review.

Aerospace and defence contractor Meggitt fell 3.3% to 326.36p as it decided to withdraw its planned final dividend payment, of 11.95p per share, after having reassessed the impact of Covid-19 on its business.

House builder Redrow lost 5.4% to 380.5p after it decided to close all of its building sites and offices.

Redrow also said it was talking to its lenders about accessing more credit.

Wealth manager Standard Life Aberdeen slipped 5.2% to 244.7p, despite it pocketing 21.86bn Indian rupees (£237m) by selling a further stake in Indian insurer HDFC Life.

Healthcare services group Mediclinic International fell 4.5% to 297.7p, even as it announcing the appointment of former Lloyds of London chief executive Inga Beale as its new chairman.

Subprime lender Provident Financial dropped 11% to 225p after it scrapped its 2019 financial dividend, while predicting its credit issued and collections performance would be adversely impacted by Covid-19.

Property portal Rightmove reversed 4.4% to 467.6p as it too cancelled its final dividend.

Landscape products group Marshalls wilted 2.5% to 619.5p, having cancelled its final dividend for 2019 plus a planned supplementary payout.

Student accommodation investor GCP edged up 0.2% to 127p, despite warning it expected to receive 'materially' reduced revenues than budgeted for the final term of the current academic year.

Wealth manager and employee benefits group was a rare big gainer, rising 10% to 619p, after it paid out its interim dividend as planned.

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