- UK markets closed sharply higher on Wednesday, bolstered by a firm opening on Wall Street and early promise from a Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

Early trading across the pond saw varying gains for the major markets, led by the S&P 500's 0.6% rise to 3,218.50.

Pharmaceutical company Moderna said a proposed vaccine for the virus had sparked immune responses in all volunteers participating in an early safety trial, lifting hopes of success.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index continued its positive early run to close 1.8% up at 6,292.65, led by pharmaceuticals, construction, mining and beverages sectors.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 also found support, posting a 1.4% gain to 17,420.55.


Luxury fashion retailer Burberry failed to catch the uptrend bug, falling nearly 6% to £14.70 after its sales slumped 48% in the first quarter, or 45% on a like-for-like basis.

Burberry said it expected the pandemic to continue to hurt revenue in the second quarter, with like-for-like sales seen falling 15% to 20%.

Online fashion retailer ASOS swung wildly through the day but closed in positive territory after forecasting annual profit to be at the top end of market expectations. Revenue for the 10 months through June rose 16% to £2.61 billion, including a 9% rise in the latter four months of that period.

ASOS shares ended 3.4% higher at £34.89.

Electronics retailer Dixons Carphone slumped close on 10% at 78.4p after it posted another annual loss, blaming the cost of closing mobile phone stores and the Covid-19 crisis hurting sales.

Dixons Carphone also forecast more pain ahead as ongoing pressure on the economy from the pandemic continues to sap consumer confidence.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline rode the positive pharma tide higher, rising nearly 3% to £16.504 on announcing that a US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee had backed the use of a cancer therapy.

Precious metals miner Hochschild Mining was also sharply up, rallying more than 12% to 214.2p even as it reported a fall in production in the second quarter, owing to coronavirus-related disruptions.


Water utility Severn Trent rose 0.5% to £23.96 after it said it still expected the Covid-19 crisis to have a negative impact on its annual revenue of between £50m and £85m.

Oil company Premier Oil dropped 3.4% to 43.8p, having reiterated its recently trimmed annual production guidance after output dropped in the first half as expected.

Premier Oil said discussions with a subset of its creditors regarding a long-term extension to credit maturities were underway, with an aim to agree terms by the end of July.

Retirement home developer McCarthy & Stone slipped 0.5% to 74p as it swung to a deep first-half loss and scrapped its interim dividend.

Homewares manufacturer Portmeirion closed nearly 7% up at 383p despite it forecasting a first-half loss after its like-for-like sales slumped 20% owing to the closure of its retail stores during lockdown.

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