StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened substantially lower on Wednesday amid increasing fears that European countries including Britain, France and Germany would re-introduce national lockdowns amid an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases.

At 0830, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 129.9 points, or 2.3%, at 5,599.05.

Aston Martin Lagonda went against the tide, revving 13% higher to 61.65p, after it unveiled a refinancing package late on Tuesday that would see Mercedes-owner Daimler lift its stake in the company to 20%, up from 2.3%.

Aston Martin also was raising £125 million from an issue of shares to companies including Zelon and Permian Investment Partners.

Clothing retailer Next also bucked the wider market, gaining 0.5% to £61.1846, having upgraded its annual profit guidance after it grew its sales by a more-than-expected 1.4% in the third quarter.

Next's pre-tax profit for the full year, based on a central sales scenario, was now expected at £365 million, up from the £300 million scenario given in September.

GlaxoSmithKline slipped 1.3% to £13.4293 following news that it and French peer Sanofi had signed a supply agreement with global vaccine alliance organisation Gavi for Covid-19 vaccines.

Property developer Land Securities dropped 4.3% to 503.6p on announcing that it had appointed Vanessa Simms as its new chief financial officer.

Sims was currently CFO of residential landlord Grainger, which shed 2.3% to 276.4p.

Footwear retailer Shoe Zone tumbled 20% to 36.27p after it said it would not be in a position to start paying dividends until the 2025 financial year, while also warning of a full-year loss.

Pre-tax losses at Shoe Zone for the year through 5 October were expected in the range of £10.0 million to £12.0 million, with revenue seen slumping 24% to £122.6 million.

Specialist engineering company IMI fell by a relatively modest 0.6% compared to the wider market, to £1.060, on announcing that trading in the third quarter had been 'somewhat better' than previous expectations amid a one-off surge in ventilator sales.

Food and beverage ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle shed 1.3% to 622p, having agreed to acquire 85% shareholding of Thai tapioca modified food starch manufacturer Chaodee Modified Starch, for an undisclosed sum.

Solar project investor Next Energy Solar Fund firmed 0.6% to 107.68p after it first-half generation volumes exceeded its budget by 11%.

Next Energy Solar Fund reaffirmed its full-year dividend target of 7.05p per share.

Disease test-kit supplier Omega Diagnostics dropped 8.3% to 84.8p on warning that it would post a first-half loss amid a 29% drop in revenue.

Advertising company M&C Saatchi was flat at 57.4p as it swung to a first-half loss that nevertheless beat its expectations at the start of the pandemic.

Looking forward, M&C Saatchi said revenue was expected to marginally stronger in the second half, with full-year headline pre-tax profit excluding exceptional items expected to be at least £4 million.

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