StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened lower on Wednesday as investors continued to fret about a surge in Covid-19 cases in some major hotspots, including the US and Brazil.

At 0821, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 47.71 points, or 0.8%, at 6,272.41.

Mr Kipling cake and Oxo stock cubes maker Premier Foods rallied 4.0% to 62p as it swung to a full-year profit that helped it eat into its large debt pile.

Premier Foods also said it expected to beat revenue and earnings expectations for the current financial year, amid a surge in demand for cooking ingredients like gravy and baking products during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Online wine retailer Naked Wines also appeared to be benefiting from folks staying at home, jumping 5.4% to 388p, despite it posting an underlying annual loss.

Nake Wines said it had experienced an encouraging start to the new year, with 81% revenue growth in the first two months.

But an end to some lockdowns is also looming, helping to boost pub group JD Wetherspoon, which rose 1.4% to £11.4055, on confirming that it would reopen pubs in England on 4 July, in line with government guidance.

Elsewhere, house builder Persimmon fell 1.3% to £23.32 after it announced that it had poached the head of bus group National Express, Dean Finch, to be its new new chief executive, effective at the end of the year.

National Express reversed 0.9% to 233.2p.

Rival house builder Crest Nicholson shed 1.6% to 246.86p after it swung to a first-half loss and warned its adjusted profits for the year would sink to between £35m and £45m, compared to £121.1m a year earlier.

Oil services group Petrofac dropped 5.1% to 209.1p, having warned that its trading performance had been materially impacted by the Covid-19 crisis and an associated plunge in oil prices.

Residential and industrial real estate investor St. Modwen Properties gained 1.4% to 357.76p despite warning of a substantial fall in first-half earnings, owing to the Covid-19 crisis.

St. Modwen's adjusted EPRA earnings for the six months through June were seen falling to around £4m-to-£5m, down from £16.2m on-year.

Russia-focused gold miner Petropavlovsk firmed 1.5% to 31.45p after it welcomed news that Standard & Poor's had upgraded its long-term issuer credit rating to 'B' from 'B-' with a stable outlook.

Telecom customer service software group Pelatro added 1.6% to 65.04p on securing a contract upgrade with an existing customer.

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