StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks traded sideways at lunchtime on Monday as investors readied themselves for the introduction of new local Covid-19 measures to be outlined later in the day by prime minister Boris Johnson.

Approaching midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 3 points at 6,014 with weakness in energy and consumer stocks offset by gains in investment companies.

Johnson is expected to announce a three-tier grading system for restrictions that could force pubs, bars and gyms in some local areas to close.

LARGE-CAP MOVERS

Aero engine maker Rolls-Royce was the top FTSE 100 gainer yet again, adding 3% to 230p having completed its rescue rights issue and after stake-building by major investors.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca added 0.2% to £84.41 after it secured $486 million from the US government to develop an antibody treatment for Covid-19.

AstraZeneca said it would initiate two related phase-three clinical trials, expected to kick off in the coming weeks.

International Airlines Group descended 1.7% to 102p on the news that Alex Cruz would stand down as chief executive of British Airways.

Cruz will be replaced by Aer Lingus chairman and chief executive Sean Doyle, though he will remain as British Airways non-executive chairman.

MID- AND SMALL-CAP MOVERS

Shares in immunotherapies developer Scancell leapt 9.4% to 17.5p, even as it raised £30 million from funds managed by US specialist healthcare investor Redmile at a price of 13p. Scancell said it was also planning to raise around £3 million from an open offer of shares at the same price.

Cake retailer Cake Box rose 5.5% to 174p, despite having reported a fall in first-half revenue owing to the impact of store closures, as it reassured pre-pandemic momentum had resumed as Covid-19 restrictions eased.

For the 20 weeks to 30 September, like-for-like sales jumped around 12%, the company said.

Power control component supplier XP Power rallied 2.1% to £48.00, having guided for an annual performance towards the top end of current analyst expectations after its third-quarter revenue jumped 28%.

On what was a big day for executive appointments, XP Power also announced that chief executive Duncan Penny would retire at the end of 2020 to be replaced by chief financial officer Gavin Griggs.

Oil services group Petrofac ticked up 0.8% to 117.4p following news that chief executive Ayman Asfari would retire at the end of the year, to focus on his family, health and charitable interests.

He would be replaced by Sami Iskander, executive vice president for Shell's upstream joint ventures business between 2016 and 2019.

Bus and rail company National Express fell 3% to 169p on announcing it had appointed Ignacio Garat as chief executive to replace current interim CEO Chris Davies.

Garat was most recently senior vice president Southern Europe, France and Benelux operations for FedEx.

Shares in Middle East and Africa focused payments firm Network International fell 3.7% to 305p after guiding for a 17% drop in annual revenue, which it said was at the top end of its guidance range.

Revenue in the third quarter also had fallen 17%, which Network International said marked an improvement from the 23% decline experienced in the second quarter.

Engineering and industrial software group Aveva reversed 4.7% to £45.11 after it forecast a drop in first half revenue to £333 million, citing FX headwinds and two subscription deals which slipped into the third quarter. Last year Aveva reported first-half revenue of £391.9 million.

Shares in AIM-listed foreign exchange provider Argentex tumbled 18% to 111.5p after it forecast close to a 15% drop in first half revenues due to subdued trading activity by its customers.

Despite the firm holding out hope of a second half rebound, broker Numis cut its full year revenue forecast by 13% and slashed its earnings forecast by more than 30%.


Story provided by StockMarketWire.com