StockMarketWire.com - The UK's leading shares continued to drift lower at lunchtime on Friday as investors mull new sweeping stiff restrictions that will see limited opportunities for thousands of businesses across Britain to re-open for business.

The Brexit negotiations saga also sapped enthusiasm, with talks between the UK and European Union set to resume.

At midday, the benchmark FTSE 100 was off 0.33% at 6,341.82. A close below 6,333 will see the UK's blue-chip index end lower for the second week straight having enjoyed a November surge through the early part of the month.

UK VACCINE TRIAL EXTENDED

In corporate news, shares in AstraZeneca softened 0.5% to £77.12 after its chief executive said the drugs giant is likely to run an additional global trial to assess the efficacy of its Covid-19 vaccine using a lower dosage following some confusion around the results of its late-stage study.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon fell nearly 2% to £11.15 after it said the new tiered system would keep about half of its pubs closed when England's lockdown ends next week (2 Dec).

Consultancy business Capita remained largely flat at 44.82p after confirming media reports that it has entered into exclusive talks with Montagu over the potential sale of its education software solutions business.

REACH ON THE RISE

Newspaper publisher Reach lost earlier firm gains to nudge just 1.5% higher at lunchtime to 156.2p on the news strong digital revenue growth has driven performance ahead of market expectations for 2020, with circulation sales also remaining resilient despite the recent lockdowns.

Immunodiagnostic Systems rallied more than 25% to 253p on the news two of its Covid-19 antigen test kits are available for sale in the UK, EU and other countries which accept the CE mark as the basis of regulatory approval.

Both tests provide a result within 15 minutes and can be 'performed by a trained healthcare professional in community locations without the need for any laboratory equipment', said the company.

Brick manufacturer Michelmersh jumped 7% to 111p as the company said underlying revenue and profits for 2020 will exceed market expectations in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic. The group also expects to finish 2020 in a positive net cash position and pay a final dividend of 2.25p per share.

PROFIT WARNINGS PUNISHED

Elsewhere, audio conferencing platform LoopUp's shares almost halved to 89p after a profit warning, blaming an acceleration in churn in its non-professional services segments amid a rise in competition.

LoopUp expects performance for 2020 will be 'moderately below current market expectations', with revenue forecast to be no lower than £50 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) no lower than £15 million, representing 134% growth on 2019.

Also taking a tumble was Tungsten, the invoicing software company, which slumped 12% to 27.4p after it warned of a continuation in lower profitability ahead of its interim results next month.

A trend of lower transaction volumes and longer conversion cycles is expected to hit revenue and earnings for the remainder of this financial year, warned Tungsten.


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