StockMarketWire.com - London's blue chip benchmark finished in the red on Tuesday, as the boost from promising early results from a Covid-19 vaccine trial conducted by Moderna faded and a surge in UK jobless claims weighed on sentiment.

At 16.35, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 41.7 points, or 0.69%, at 6,006.89.

UK jobless claims jumped 856.5k in April, above market expectations of a 675k rise, though the unemployment rate for the three months through March improved to 3.9%.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Tobacco giant Imperial Brands wafted 6.1% lower to £15.52 as it cut its dividend by a third and booked a weaker first-half profit, owing to a fall in vaping sales and tobacco volumes.

Food services company Compass fell 4.4% to £11.03 after it launched a £2bn equity fundraise to boost its liquidity and pulled its guidance, having reported lower half-yearly profit.

The placing price was being determined via a bookbuild process, Compass said.

Copper miner Antofagasta dropped 2.6% to 833.6p as it decided to slash its 2019 final dividend to 7.1c per share, down from the 24.4c previously indicated.

Enterprise software company Micro Focus International rallied 7.4% to 453.1p, even as it warned of potential asset writedowns, after its constant currency revenue slumped 11% in the first half of its financial year.

Budget airline EasyJet ended 2.8p lower at 548.8p as it revealed it had been the target of a cyber attack, with customers' email addresses, travel details and credit card details accessed, although the low-cost carrier stressed 'there is no evidence that any personal information of any nature has been misused'.

Healthcare services provider UDG Healthcare gained 7.8% to 672p as its interim profit more than doubled, though it warned its performance in the second half would be impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

Wind farm investor The Renewables Infrastructure Group shed 4.6% to 121.6p after it launched a share issue to pay down debt and fund potential acquisition opportunities.

New shares in the company would be issued at 120p per share, representing a 5.8% discount to their closing price on Monday.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Flooring retailer Topps Tiles softened 2.1% to 37.2p despite having swung to a first-half loss after its revenue slipped due to the Covid-19 crisis and a tough trading environment before the pandemic hit.

Topps Tiles scrapped its interim dividend and said it was unlikely to pay a final dividend, too.

Cleaning products provider McBride rallied 6.6% to 61.2p, having upgraded its annual profit guidance as it continued to experience heightened demand for cleaning products, though off an earlier peak.

Adjusted pre-tax profit for the year through June was expected to be around 15% ahead of currently market expectations, McBride said.

Rental property and student accommodation focused developer Watkin Jones cheapened 1.7% to 148p as it reported a 19% rise in first-half profit, but acknowledged the gains were largely made before the Covid-19 crisis hit.

Watkin Jones said it had gradually been able to reopen most of its development sites.

Technology supplier to the gambling and broadcast industries Quixant surged 20.6% higher to 108.5p, having noted positive signs of recovery emerging in global gambling markets.

Fashion retailer French Connection fell 6.2% to 5.3p after the struggling company warned it could run out of cash in months, without additional access to capital and should pandemic-driven disruption continue for much longer.


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