- UK stocks opened higher on Wednesday as investors awaited a decision on US interest rates expected later in the day from the Federal Reserve.

At 0819, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 35.65 points, or 0.6%, at 6,371.37.

The Fed is is not expected to change rates, though a briefing by chairman Jerome Powell will be watched closely by investors keen to assess his read on recent economic data, including a surprise improvement in employment figures.

Fashion retailer Quiz jumped 29% to 8.74p on announcing that it had appointed administrators to its physical store portfolio in the UK and Spain, citing Covid-19 lockdowns and shift in shopping habits towards online channels.

Wagamama owner Restaurant Group rallied 5.7% to 74.55p as it confirmed it would close around 125 of its Frankie and Benny's restaurants and seek rent reductions on a remaining 160 sites in its leisure division.

London West End property investor Shaftesbury added 3.1% to 668p despite swinging to a first-half loss after the value of its properties slumped and the Covid-19 crisis hit rental income from its retail tenants.

Real estate investor London Metric Property climbed 1.2% to 215.6p as it upped its dividend, after a rise in rental income helped boost its underlying earnings.

Specialist lender Paragon Banking firmed 3.5% to 382.2p even as it reported a 21% fall in first-half profit and scrapped its interim dividend, having been hurt by loan impairments related to the Covid-19 crisis.

Banknote authentication provider Spectra Systems sank 10% to 128p on announcing that it had been underbid by a competing company for a five-year Asian central bank contract.

Iron castings and machining group Castings slipped 0.3% to 390p even as it recommended a dividend, while reporting a fall in profit as the Covid-19 pandemic pressured demand in the second half of the year.

Digital performance analytics group XLMedia gained 6.5% to 23.96p, having kicked off a process to sell the majority of its Finnish-facing casino assets, along with certain other publishing sites.

Photo booth and laundry services supplier Photo-Me International dropped 11% to 50.82p as it warned of a fall in annual profit owing to a slump in revenue and provisions blamed on the Covid-19 crisis.

Wound care company Advanced Medical Solutions rose 1.2% to 255.5p as it reaffirmed its dividend, even as the Covid-19 impact was denting revenue by as much as 5% a month.

Story provided by