- UK stocks pushed modestly higher in early trading Wednesday as coronavirus hit countries continued to take tentative steps to reopen their economies and Google-owner Alphabet posted better-than-expected sales.

At 0820, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 11.8 points, or 0.2%, at 5.970.30.

Barclays rose 5.8% to 103.46p, even as it reported a 40% drop in first-quarter profit owing to a $2.1bn credit impairment charge pinned on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fellow lender Standard Chartered gained 5.7% to 412p after its profit fell 29% in the first quarter, as it too posted a significant rise in credit impairments linked to the crisis.

Advertising group WPP gained 1.5% to 599.4p on announcing that it had made some permanent headcount reductions, as its revenue slipped 4.9% in the first quarter.

WPP did not specify how many of its staff had been made redundant.

Clothing retailer Next eased back 0.3% to £47.71 as its sales slumped 38% in the first quarter, a decline that the company said was steeper than it had feared.

Next suspended dividends and cancelled its share buyback.

Insurance company Hiscox dropped 4.9% to 697p on confirming media speculation that it was mulling a potential equity raising to help it weather the Covid-19 storm.

House builder Persimmon shed 0.5% to £21.98 as its order book shrank, though it said customer enquiries during the UK's lockdown had remained at 'good levels' ahead of it reopening building sites from this week.

Phone and electronics retailer Dixons Carphone jumped 12% to 77p, even as it ditched its full-year dividend.

Dixons also reported a 2% rise in year-to-date like-for-like electrical sales, as a stronger online performance offset lost sales due to store closures. The company's financial year ends 2 May.

Chemicals company Synthomer firmed 1.9% to 284p as it cut its capital expenditure guidance and executive salaries, but made no mention of its dividend plans.

Train and bus ticket portal Trainline advanced 1.8% to 364.6p after its lenders waived a financial covenant in respect of its £350m revolving credit facility until August 2021.

Specialist fuel, food and animal feed distributor NWF rallied 15% to 190p, having forecast a substantial improvement in performance, as the Covid-19 crisis increased demand for food and the falling oil price helped customers in its fuel business.

Collectible stamp retailer Stanley Gibbons slumped 9.8% to 2.3p amid a 'huge' impact from the Covid-19 crisis.

The company said it had cancelled a planned auction in May but was planning to hold its next auction online. Story provided by