StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened stronger on Wednesday as optimism that economies were recovering from the Covid-19 crisis offset concerns about rising political tensions in Hong Kong that have soured US-Sino relations.

At 0820, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 44.07 points, or 0.7%, at 6.111.83.

Soft-drinks maker Britvic bubbled 2.2% higher to 736.46p as cost cutting helped it post a rise in first-half profit.

The maker of Robinsons and Tango drinks deferred a decision on paying a dividend until later in the year.

Subprime lender Provident Financial rose 5.0% to 191.9p, even as it reported a fall in new customer numbers, having tightened its lending standards in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

Provident Financial also touted the strength of its balance sheet and said it was holding regulatory capital some 33% above the minimum regulatory requirement.

Property developer British Land firmed 3.2% to 392p despite it reporting wider losses on lower rental income, as the Covid-19 pandemic heaped further pressure on struggling retailers.

Wealth manager St. James's Place gained 5.7% to 926.6p on announcing that it had boosted its funds under management during the month of April on-year, assisted by positive net inflows.

Services provider to the housing sector Mears rose 0.9% to 166.96p as it swung to a full-year loss, having written down the value of discontinued domiciliary care operations.

Normalised profit at Mears edged up 1%, on the back of higher revenue.

Pawnbroker Ramsdens jumped 9.5% to 155p after it reported a 30% rise in annual profit as it boosted foreign exchange, jewellery and pawnbroking revenue.

Ramsdens didn't declare a final dividend, citing Covid-19 pressures that have forced the closure of its stores.

Detection technology supplier Kromek rallied 9.2% to 22.11p, having won a $5.2m contract extension from the US Department of Defense to detect and identify pathogens in an urban environment.

Compliance and energy services group Sureserve fell 0.8% to 42.15p despite posting a rise in first-half profit, as higher sales at its compliance division offset a weaker energy performance.

Shopping centre owner Hammerson added 4.0% to 77.3p, even as it announced the pending departure of chief executive David Atkins.

Luxury furniture retailer Walker Greenbank firmed 8.6% to 38p, having moved to restart manufacturing at its two UK factories. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com