- Britain's main stock index fell below the 6,000-point mark in early trading on Friday, despite the release of positive retail sales figures, as investors remained wary of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe.

At 0824, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 16.39 points, or 0.3%, at 5,996.95.

Retail sales rose 3.6% in July, adding to June's 13.9% bounce and beating expectations of a 2.0% improvement.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca shed 1.1% to £84.53, even as its drug to treat patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer gained approval in Japan.

Investment company HG Capital Trust climbed 4.4% to 261.5p on announcing that it would pour about £17.1m into Norwegian enterprise software company Visma.

Disease test-kit supplier Omega Diagnostics rose 6.0% to 61.45p, having received World Health Organisation pre-qualification for its Visitect CD4 test for HIV.

Logistics group Eddie Stobart jumped 11% to 8.4p on news that it had secured a three-year contract from supermarket group Morrisons to provide transportation services from two distribution centres.

Alternative energy company Simec Atlantis Energy leapt 15% to 20.35p after it agreed to source £170m of debt from South Korea's Hana Financial Investment.

The debt would fund the first phase of the company's Uskmouth project in Wales, which would convert a coal-fired power plant into one fed by waste-derived fuel pellets.

Engineering company 600 Group firmed 1.3% to 8.1p as it announced its order book had begun to recover after lockdowns eased.

The company also secured a £1.2m ($1.6m) loan backed by the UK government via HSBC to help it weather the pandemic.

Cleaning products group Tristel sparkled 3.6% higher to 492.1p after its Duo disinfectants were approved for the decontamination of semi-critical medical devices by authorities in India.

RNA therapeutics developer Silence Therapeutics added 0.4% to 462.72p on announcing that it had filed for a proposed listing of American depositary shares on the Nasdaq.

Oncology, inflammation and infectious diseases focused Tiziana Life Sciences rallied 8.3% to 170p, having been been granted a patent in the US related to its Milciclib treatment for cancer.

Superyacht maintenance company GYG gained 7.7% to 83.5p on guiding for higher core first-half earnings, as margin improvements through restructuring offset a fall in revenue.

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