StockMarketWire.com - UK shares dropped into negative territory at midday on Wednesday ahead of the Chancellor's spending review with Rishi Sunak expected to reveal the extent of the damage done to the economy from the pandemic.

Investors will also be keeping an eye on durable goods orders in the US and initial jobless claims this afternoon.

At 12:00 the FTSE 100 was down 0.5% at 6,390 points.

CORPORATE NEWS

Shares in Aerospace and auto parts maker Melrose climbed 4% higher to 169.75p after it reported trading from July to October had been at the 'top end of expectations for 2020.'

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning division Nortek saw it best ever performance under Melrose's ownership during the period, while the auto parts and metallurgy divisions were steady and the civil aerospace division avoided a further deterioration in market conditions.

Shares in United Utilities rose 3.8% to 930p after the firm declared a slight rise in its interim dividend to 14.4p per share.

Instrumentation firm Rotork also pleased after it forecast full year operating profits 'at or slightly above' the top end of market estimates of £124 million to £136 million.

Trading improved in the third quarter with revenues down just 3% on last year compared with a 10% shortfall in the first half, while margins expanded and the firm's net cash pile continued to grow. The shares nudged traded flat at 318p.

Shares in animal genetics firm Genus climbed 5% to £41.1 after it said that in spite of Covid and currency headwinds it saw full year earnings growing ahead of its previous expectations after strong trading in the last four months.

China's pig industry is recovering slowly from the impact of African Swine Fever leading to good demand for Genus's genetic products, while sales of sexed and beef-on-dairy products are growing rapidly across regions.

Media firm Future announced it had made an agreed £594 million offer for price comparison website GoCompare.com owner Goco..

The offer, at 136p per share or a 24% premium to the previous closing price, consists of a mixture of cash and shares. GoCo shareholders will own 19% of the combined entity. Future shares slumped 12.6% to £17.2 while GoCo shares jumped 11% to 121.8p.

Shares in infrastructure and facilities management group Babcock fell 2.6% to 345.6p after it posted a larger than expected drop in first half operating profits due to a combination of Covid headwinds, a weak civil aerospace market and the government insourcing of the Magnox and Dounreay projects.

Shares in software firm Aveva fell 20% to £32.77 after the admission of 125.7 million nil-paid rights-issue shares following the firm's £2.835 billion capital raise to part-finance its acquisition of OSISoft.




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