- UK stocks were 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 11.40 a.m. the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 77.58 points, or 1.36%, at 5,626.87.


Tesco dropped 4.7% to 213.6p 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.

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 7.9% to 245.6p, Direct Line fell 7.1% to 270.7p, Legal & General slumped 3.4% to 196.75p and RSA Insurance slid 4.1% to 386.6p.

Packaging company DS Smith softened 1.7% to 287.1p, despite reporting sustained demand for cardboard boxes, mostly from the food and e-commerce sectors, after it scrapped its interim dividend as a precaution.

Solar power investor NextEnergy Solar Fund improved 0.9% to 116.6p, 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 edged 0.3% higher to 141.4p after it said it had not felt any material impact from the Covid-19 crisis, while declaring a quarterly dividend as planned.

Recruitment company Page perked up 3.8p to 332.4p 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.

Online fashion retailer ASOS rallied 29.4% to £20.18 higher on refinancing-driven relief and better-than-expected first half results issued after yesterday's market close, which showed continued sales momentum and a payoff from operational improvements in the business.


Travel agency On the Beach jumped 22.5% to 245p 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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