StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 index remained in negative territory on Thursday 24 September amid growing concerns of a further Covid-19 lockdown. At midday the FTSE 100 was down 0.3% at 5,882 points.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government would directly support wages of people at work and help firms employ people on shorter hours and extend the lower VAT rate of 5% until for the hospitality sector until spring next year.

Shares in skin analytics company Integumen surged 18% higher on Thursday to 62.5p following the unveiling of a Covid-19 personalised, real-time breath test.

Veterinary services firm Pets At Home gained 16% to a new all-time high of 371p after it revealed that earnings for the full year would beat expectations due to strong second-half trading.

Roadside assistance group the AA perked-up 6% to 30p after the company said it was in discussions for a possible offer after strong interest from a consortium backed by TowerBrook Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus to buy the company.

Agriculture and engineering group, Carr's announced that Hugh Pelham will succeed Tim Davies as chief executive officer, giving the shares a 5% lift to 103p.

United Utilities said the lockdown resulted in lower water consumption by businesses, clipping revenues by 5% and likely leading to a fall in underlying operating profits when it declares its results on 25 November. Despite this, the company's share price held firm, gaining 1.5% to 864p.

Sofa seller DFS Furniture said the current financial year had started very strongly and barring further lockdowns it expected to report a strong first-half sales and profit performance. The shares nudged-up 0.1% to 168p.

Military equipment maker Avon Rubber confirmed it won a sole-source contract worth up to $93 million to develop and supply the US Army with its integrated head protection system. The shares dipped 0.4% lower to £42.

Smiths Group, said that government measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus had hit its profitability too, with additional resources deployed so it could maintain uninterrupted service levels during lockdown. The engineering group's share price was down 7.7% at £13.2.

Leisure group Cineworld noted that performance had improved since the reopening of its cinemas but warned that it was likely to breach its debt agreements. It also noted that further government shutdowns could delay movie releases while its 'severe but plausible' scenario would require further funding, including a possible rights issue, sending the shares 12% lower to 42.5p.






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