StockMarketWire.com - UK consolidated their gains on Wednesday, rising throughout the morning after the latest Purchasing Managers (PMI) survey for the UK service sector showed the slowdown in the economy moderated in May after April's dramatic collapse.

At midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 81 points or 1.3% at 6,302 led by travel and leisure stocks including Easyjet up 6.3% to 770, International Consolidated Airlines up 8.6% to 272p and Whitbread up 4.6% to £25.86.

Budget carrier Wizz Air gained 5.7% to £36.20 having more than doubled its annual profit as it carried more passengers on a fast-expanding route network throughout Europe.

Wizz Air has since had to ground most of its fleet but insisted it had the balance sheet wherewithal to ride out the Covid-19 crisis.

Low-cost carrier Ryanair ascended 2.7% to €12.14, even as it reported a 99.5% plunge in passenger numbers in the month of May.

Defence company Chemring jumped 26% to 269p as its first-half profit surged, underpinned by a strong performance in its sensors & information segment. Chemring hiked its dividend 8%.

Travel location convenience store group SSP reversed earlier losses to gain 3.3% to 315p after it swung to a full-year loss and launched a fund raising of up to £26.8m, which it said would allow shareholders to reinvest their final dividend back into the company.

Concrete products maker Ibstock shed 1.3% to 198.1p on announcing that it was reviewing steps to scale back operations in an effort to slash costs that could lead to a 15% cut in its workforce.

Masonry products maker Forterra gained 3.4% to 215p after it, too, said it was taking steps to restructure the business, which, in its case, could lead to 225 job cuts.

Music royalty investment firm Hipgnosis (SONG) rose 8% to a new all-time high of 115p after reporting a 17.7% increase in total net asset value (NAV) return for the year to 31 March.

Excluding dividends, the operative NAV was up 13.3% reflecting strong gains in the value of its music catalogue, helped in part by an increase in music streaming during lockdown.

Auto retailer Vertu Motors was stuck in neutral at 30.1p after booking a sharp fall in annual profit for the year through February, following the writedown of the the value of its assets to reflect the impact of Covid-19 on future performance.

Adjusted pre-tax profit in March was £5.9m, well below normal levels, while April and May saw combined losses of £20m, though that was 'significantly improved' on Virtu's initial forecasts.

AIM-listed fishing tackle and equipment retailer Angling Direct gained 2.4% to 63.5p, even as it booked a full-year loss and warned of a looming hit to earnings from store closures.

Angling Direct also reported a 27% jump in sales and said online sales were 'materially ahead' post Covid-19 lockdowns, having risen 24% in April, with the trend continuing in May.




Story provided by StockMarketWire.com