- UK stocks drifted lower on Tuesday as a continuing rise in local Covid-19 cases and persistent fears of a no-deal Brexit offset hope that US lawmakers were closing in on a stimulus deal.

At 0823, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 13.26 points, or 0.2%, at 5,871.39.

Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser rose 1.4% to £73.02, having upgraded its annual revenue guidance as it reported a 6.9% rise in third-quarter sales buoyed by higher demand for hygiene products during the pandemic.

Reckitt Benckiser's like-for-like revenue growth for the year through December was now expected in the 'low double digits', up from previous guidance of the 'high single digits'. Like-for-like growth in the third quarter was 13%.

Mining giant BHP fell 1.1% to £15.968 after it affirmed its annual output targets but said it had shelved a $2.5 billion expansion of its massive Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

Pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca added 0.4% to £81.40 after one of its lung cancer drug candidates was granted a priority regulatory review in the US.

House builder Bellway climbed 0.8% to £26.46, even as it halved its dividend on the back of a slump in annual profit pinned on virus-led disruptions to construction activity.

On a brighter note, Bellway said productivity levels were improving and that its forward order book stood at a record £1.87 billion, up from £1.31 billion year-on-year.

IT products and services provider Softcat dropped 12% to £10.9699 as it upped its annual dividend, but shrunk its special payout, having reported a 10% rise in annual profit.

On its outlook, Softcat said that while the new financial year had started well, it expected corporate customers 'to continue to be circumspect with their spending over the coming months'.

Train and bus ticket seller Trainline reversed 6.1% to 312.6p on news that chief executive Clare Gilmartin would stand down at the end of February, and be replaced by current operations head Jody Ford.

Gilmartin, who would remain at Trainline as a senior advisor, said the decision was personal and that she wanted to spend more time with her family.

Pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan gained 3.2% to 30.12p following news that it had won a contract with the UK government worth about £10 million to develop a Covid-19 human challenge study model.

Challenge studies involve participants intentionally being infected with a pathogen to test the efficacy of treatments and vaccines.

Defence contractor TP sank 11% to 6.2p as it posted a deeper first-half loss despite its sales rising by a third, as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted operations and hurt margins.

Online gambling group Gamesys rose 2.1% to £13.40 on announcing that its performance in the third quarter was ahead of its expectations, as revenue increased by nearly a third, underpinned by customer growth.

Computer, power and communications products marker Solid State firmed 5.2% to 657.5p on guiding for a flat annual profit performance, as revenue fell modestly in the first half.

Fund manager and financial planner support group Tatton Asset Management added 3.9% to 294p as its first-half operating profit rose by more than a fifth, bolstered by fresh fund inflows.

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