- UK stocks remained in negative territory at lunchtime Wednesday as investors were wary of climbing Covid-19 cases in Europe and elsewhere. Attention now turns to the U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's address at the virtual Jackson Hole Symposium on Thursday, where he is expected to provide an update on the U.S. central bank's future monetary policy approach.

At 12:00, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 0.2%, at 6,023 points.

Subprime lender Provident Financial rallied 17.7% to 230p despite swinging to a first-half loss and scrapping its interim dividend, as its revenue fell and impairment charges grew amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Provident, however, said it had nevertheless performed better than expected and had repaid furlough support to the UK government.

Bus and rail company Go-Ahead advanced 5.5% to 686p after it won a two-year contract extension to continue operating around 450 buses in the Loyang region of Singapore.

Cruise operator Carnival rose 2.9% to £10.1, even as it cancelled yet more services, this time at its Princess Cruises unit, citing border restrictions and uncertainty over airline travel.

Argentina-focused oil company President Energy increased 2.8% to 1.8p on announcing that it had entered into a drilling contract for two new wells scheduled to commence later this year.

President also announced discussions with a 'national oil company' regarding the potential sale of a stake in President's Pirity asset in Paraguay.

Mining company Hummingbird Resources added 1.5% to 34.5p as it swung to a first-half profit, also on the back of rising gold prices.

Tech company Vianet added 0.5% to 94p, having announced that trading for the first four months of its financial year had been ahead of revenue and profit forecasts revised due to Covid-19.

Vianet is heavily exposed to a UK pub and restaurant sector that has shown recovery signs since lockdowns were eased.

Kidney disease diagnostics group Renalytix AI added 0.44% to 575p on news that it had filed a submission seeking clearance of its KidneyIntelX product with the US Food and Drug Administration.

Miner Polymetal International lost 0.9% to £19.4, despite hiking its dividend after its first-half earnings more than doubled on the back of higher gold and silver prices.

Polymetal declared a dividend for the six months through July of 40c per share, up from 20c on-year.

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