StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened lower on Monday as investors continued to fret about the damage the Covid-19 crisis is doing to the global economy and company earnings.

At 0820, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 20.23 points, or 0.35%, at 5,766.73.

Mr Kilping cakes and Oxo stock cubes producer Premier Foods soared 24% to 40.62p on announcing that it expected to report a trading profit at the top end of market expectations.

Premier Foods also announced a pensions deal that could reduce its contributions by 45%.

Furniture retailer DFS rallied 11% to 145p as it confirmed media reports that it was in the advanced stages of negotiating £60m-to-£70m of additional debt and was also preparing for a possible equity raise.

House builder Redrow slipped 3.6% to 394.04p, even as it announced that it had secured more debt from its lenders and also confirmed that it was eligible to tap UK government financing support.

Pub owner Marston's firmed 3.3% to 41.58p, having agreed a waiver on its debt covenants.

Bingo hall and casino company Rank climbed 4.5% to 174.56p after it announced that it had furloughed about 7,000 employees to save costs during the disease pandemic.

Rank said it would await more clarity on the Covid-19 situation before deciding whether to pay its next planned dividend.

Lift science research tools provider Abcam gained 2.6% to £11.86 despite it warning on revenue, citing government imposed lockdowns hurting its performance in North America and EMEA.

Cash-strapped drug delivery technology company Midatech Pharma dropped 13% to 21p after it announced that it was considering a potential sale of the company as part of an ongoing strategic review.

Midatch Pharma hired Noble as a financial adviser to assist in a search for potential acquirers or partners.

IT services provider SysGroup added 1.9% to 26.5p on forecasting its annual adjusted earnings for the year through March 2020 would double, though it warned the Covid-19 crisis could cause contract renewal delays.

Disease test kit supplier Omega Diagnostics surged 17% to 33.25p, having signed an agreement to provide manufacturing support for a Covid-19 immunity test being developed by Mologic.

Financial services group WH Ireland was steady at 46p as it confirmed press speculation that it was in talks to potentially acquire corporate finance assets from Cantor Fitzgerald.

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