StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks pushed higher in early trade on Friday after figures showed the UK economy was continuing to recover from Covid-19 lockdowns.

At 0823, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 19.62 points, or 0.3%, at 6,022.94.

UK gross domestic product rose 6.6% in July, in line with market expectations, and adding to an 8.7% rise in June. But it was still 11.7% lower than the pre-pandemic levels seen in February.

Rio Tinto gained 0.7% to £48.16, even as chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques and two other senior managers resigned following widespread condemnation of the miner for blasting ancient Australian rock shelters.

Jacques, who took the reins at Rio Tinto in July 2016, would remain as CEO until the appointment of a successor or 31 March, whichever was earlier.

Also departing were iron ore chief Chris Salisbury and corporate affairs head Simone Niven. Salisbury was being replaced by current managing director for rail, port and core services Ivan Vella.

Elsewhere in the mining sector, iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo rallied 3.9% to 182.8p, having declared a 6.6c per share special dividend amid buoyant demand for the steelmaking ingredient during the pandemic.

The dividend followed a prior 6.6c payment announced in June, as well as an interim dividend of 6.6c announced alongside Ferrexpo's interim results last month.

Anglo American rose 1.2% to £18.848 on the back of higher diamond sales at its De Beers unit.

Emerging markets asset manager Ashmore reversed 0.2% to 390.8p as it held its final dividend steady, having eked out a modest rise in annual profit.

Ashmore declared a final dividend of 12.1p per share, taking the total dividend for the year to 16.9p a share, up 2% on-year.

Subprime lender Provident Financial shed 1.6% to 223p on announcing that chief executive Malcolm Le May was taking a short leave of absence from late September to undertake a planned heart procedure.

Le May was expected to return to his position in November.

Oil and gas minnow Hurricane Energy plunged 50% to 3.15p after it slashed production expectations from its Lancaster field off the northern coast of Scotland.

Hurricane Energy said a technical review indicated the field was 'more complex than previously thought'. It was now estimating recovery from two existing early-production system wells there of 16.0m barrels, down from 37.3m barrels previously.

Music rights investor Hipgnosis Songs Fund gained 0.3% to 122.38p, having acquired the music catalogue of The Pretenders founding member and lead vocalist Chrissie Hynde, for an undisclosed sum.

Invoicing software group Tungsten added 3.3% to 39.44p despite chief financial officer Chris Allen standing with immediate effect for personal reasons.

Stock picker Schroder Asian Total Return Investment Company gained 0.7% to 406.88p after it posted a positive first-half performance that beat its benchmark.

Mining group Pembridge Resources firmed 6.9% to 3.48p as subsidiary Minto Explorations secured a prepayment funding facility of up to $12.5m with customer Japan's Sumitomo.

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