StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened lower on Tuesday as persistent concerns about rising Covid-19 cases around the globe offset better-than-expected earnings updates from market bellwethers BP and HSBC.

At 0825, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 9.36 points, or 0.2%, at 5,782.65.

Oil major BP added 2.4% to 204.75p after it swung to a modest third-quarter profit that beat market expectations.

But in a sign the sector is far from out of the woods, BP cut its quarterly dividend by 49% to 5.25 cents per share.

HSBC, meanwhile, rallied 5.2% to 335.95p, even as it reported a 35% drop in third-quarter profit that nevertheless beat market expectations.

The bank also said its credit loss charge for the full year was currently trending towards the lower end of its previous $8b billion-to -$13 billion guidance range.

Premier Inn hotel chain owner Whitbread firmed 2.3% to 22.95 despite swinging to a £725 million first-half loss and scrapping its dividend after the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the hospitality sector.

In an ominous sign, Whitbread said it had seen another slowdown in demand due to recent regional lockdowns and more home-based working.

Budget airline EasyJet ascended 0.8% to 523.8p after it sold and leased back a number of its aircraft, raising around £306 million to bolster its balance sheet.

Wealth manager St James' Place shed 1.9% to 911.8p on announcing that its funds under management for the third quarter had risen 5.2%.

St James' Place, which is facing calls from an activist investor to cut costs, said its net inflows during the quarter amounted to £1.44 billion, down from £2.11 billion year-on-year.

Online contracts-for-difference broker Plus500 fell 5.3% to £15.35, even as its operating earnings almost doubled in the third quarter as heightened market volatility encouraged more punters to place bets.

But there was no upgrade for the full year: Plus500 said its annual revenue and earnings were still expected to be in line with current analysts' consensus forecasts.

Fashion retailer Quiz rose 3.9% to 7.48p despite swinging to a £29.4 million loss for the year through March and saying trading had deteriorated even further since due to the pandemic.

Quiz said its sales for the six months to 30 September 2022 had tumbled 73% to £17.2 million.

Cocktail bar owner Revolution Bars sank 10% to 8.9p after it launched a company voluntary arrangement to reduce the size of its estate and rental cost base. Under the CVA, it would exit six bars and obtain materially improved rental terms on seven others.

Revolution Bars also said the latest government restrictions clouded its outlook and that it now expected the important Christmas trading period to be 'severely compromised'.

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