- UK stocks opened lower on Wednesday as Covid-19 cases continued to mount throughout the world, insurers were directed to scrap their dividends and supermarket giant Tesco warned of higher costs related to the disease outbreak.

At 0821, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 60.02 points, or 1.1%, at 5.644.43.

Tesco dropped 3.0% to 217.4p after it said payroll, distribution and store costs related to Covid-19 could amount to between £650m and £925m.

On a more positive note, Tesco said the costs would be partially offset by increased food sales. It also became one of the rare companies to stick by plans to pay dividends -- in its case a final payout for the year through March 2020 of 6.5p per share.

Insurance companies were hit by a request from regulators to exercise restraint on paying dividends, following a similar request directed at Britain's banks.

Aviva sank 9.2% to 928.24p, Direct Line fell 6.2% to 273.3p, Legal & General slumped 4.9% to 193.77p and RSA Insurance slid 5.3% to 381.8p

Packaging company DS Smith firmed 0.4% to 293.2p amid sustained demand for cardboard boxes, mostly from the food and e-commerce sectors, though it scrapped its interim dividend as a precaution.

Solar power investor NextEnergy Solar Fund eased back 0.1% to 115.44p, having announced that the Covid-19 pandemic had not had any significant impact on the company, while reaffirming its dividend plans.

Wind farm owner Greencoat UK Wind lost 1.3% to 139.16p, even as it said it had not felt any material impact from the Covid-19 crisis, while declarig a quarterly dividend as planned.

Recruitment company Page fell 1.8% to 322.6p as it scrapped its final dividend and slashed its headcount.

Defence company BAE Systems descended 1.4% to 520.8p after it raised $1.3bn from a 2030 bond offer paying 3.4% interest per year.

Travel agency On the Beach jumped 8.7% to 217.3p despite scrapping its interim dividend, as it renegotiated debt covenants and claimed its low-cost business model would help it weather the Covid-19 storm.

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