- UK stocks resumed trading after an extended Easter break with losses on Tuesday, largely holding onto gains driven last week by signs Covid-19 infection rates were stabilizing in major disease hotspots.

At 12:00, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was off 0.4%, at 5,818.09.

Virtual reality technology company VR Education surged 26.5% to 9.8p after it signed a partnership agreement with US-based virtual animal dissections content creator VictoryXR.

Cocktail bar owner Revolution Bars jumped 24% to 19p after lender NatWest agreed to up the size of a debt facility to help it weather the Covid-19 crisis.

Pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca rallied 6.2% to £75.6 after it revealed that it was assessing the potential of an existing blood cancer drug to treat Covid-19 patients.

AstraZeneca also reported positive results from a trial of a lung cancer treatment, and, in addition, said a venture with Merck had gained US approval for a treatment for the rare condition neurofibromatosis.

Aerospace and defence contractor Ultra Electronics climbed 3% to £20 even as it decided to delay the payment of its 2019 final dividend, citing uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fashion retailer Next gained 0.2% to £46.3 as it reopened its online businesses 'in a very limited way', having implemented additional Covid-19 safety measures and consulted with staff and the relevant union.

Specialist lender Paragon Banking fell 1% to 339p as it decided not to pay an interim dividend.

Paragon Banking said it planned to consider an appropriate dividend for the year as a whole with its full-year results in November.

German business park investor Sirius Real Estate lost 2% to 67.6p on reporting that only a small number of tenants experiencing difficulties due to the Covid-19 crisis had requested a deferral of rental and service charge payments.

The collection of rent and service charge income for the month of April had remained 'relatively robust', Sirius said, with over 75% of billing collected by working day seven, representing about 90% of the normal working pa

Marketing platform Dotdigital lost 2.6% to 92.6p on confirming that business from it existing customers continued to grow, though it flagged a slowdown in securing new customers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Landscape products group Marshalls shed 2.8% to 632p despite announcing that it was poised to source an additional £90m of debt funding from its banking syndicate.

Pub and restaurant owner Mitchells & Butlers lost 6.5% to 207.9p, having requested a temporary waiver of its debt obligations as it furlouged more than 99% of its staff.

Exhibition company Hyve dipped 7.7% to 27.1p after confirming media speculation that it was planning an equity raising to shore up its balance sheet.

Recruitment consultancy Nakama plunged 55% 25p, having announced that although its cash position remained 'tight' it was confident it could survive through the Covid-19 storm.

Nakama warned that its performance for the year through March 2020 would be 'marginally below' its previous expectations.

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