- UK stocks closed higher on Friday after retail sales rebounded in May, helping to offset concerns about a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

At midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 76 points or 1.2% at 6,300 points.

Retail sales rose 12% in May, beating market expectations of a 6.3% improvement, while the latest GfK survey showed UK consumer confidence at a post-crisis high.

The index was lifted by global brands such as Diageo up 3.4% to £29.00 and Compass Group +3% to £11.79 as well as utility firms United Utilities up 4% to 978p and Severn Trent up 3% to £25.68.

Building materials group SIG rallied 9.8% to 36.8p on launching a £165m discounted share issue as trading recovers as lockdowns ease.

New shares in SIG would be offered at 25p each to investment manager CD&R Sunshine, to raise £60m. The raising also included a placing and open offer at 30p per share, to raise of £105m.

Industrial equipment supplier HC Slingsby jumped 7.4% to 72.5p as cost control offset a 3% slide in revenue to boost its earnings in the first five months of the year.

Shares in European Opportunities investment trust bounced 4.5% to 718p after they suffered a 12% drubbing yesterday on trouble at its biggest holding, German mobile payments firm Wirecard.

The trust offloaded Wirecard shares yesterday as the shares fell as much as 60%.

Mining company Rio Tinto gave up 0.8% to £44.67 as it launched a review of its heritage management process, having attracted widespread condemnation for blasting an ancient cave site in Australia held sacred by indigenous people.

Chemicals company Synthomer gained 0.3% to 284p after it priced a €520m bond offering that would help bolster its balance sheet during the Covid-19 crisis.

Engineering services company Wood Group eased 1.1% to 224p after it said adjusted earnings had slumped 19% in the first half after the Covid-19 crisis hurt clients in the oil and gas sector.

However, the firm said the blow had been buffered by resilience in the chemicals and oil-refining sectors and new work in alternative energy.

Construction and engineering company Costain shed 4.7% to 730p after it announced that overall activity levels had now stabilised.

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