StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks made modest gains on Monday morning as investors weighed optimism about a potential Covid-19 vaccine against fears of a more severe economic fallout from the pandemic as cases continue to spiral.

Investors were also fretting about a potential no-deal Brexit as the 31 December end to the transition period fast approaches with little sign yet of a trade deal being struck with the European Union.

At 0827, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 5.67 points, or less than 0.1%, at 6,373.25.

Banking group Lloyds gained 0.2% to 37.36p following news that it had appointed Charlie Nunn, a senior leader at rival HSBC, as its new chief executive.

Nunn was currently CEO of wealth and personal banking at HSBC. He would replace Antonio Horta-Osorio some time next year, with the exact timing subject to his notice period at HSBC.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca climbed 2.0% to £79.22 after its diabetes drug Forxiga was approved in Japan to treat patients with chronic heart failure.

Fellow drug company Indivior jumped 11% to 110.43p, paring recent steep losses, as it said it would 'vigorously defend' itself against a £1 billion claim brought by former parent Reckitt Benckiser over an opiod addiction treatment.

Indivior claimed the legal action was 'without merit' and that it had 'strong grounds' for defence.

Elsewhere, advertising behemoth WPP lost 1.0% to 742.2p after it submitted a proposal to acquire the shares in Australia and New Zealand operations that it didn't already own for around A$181 million (£100 million).

Consumer goods giant Unilever added 1.0% to £46.30 on announcing that it had completed the unification of its British and Dutch businesses into a single UK-based parent company.

Security company GFS slipped 0.2% to 227.6p after potential suitor GardaWorld extended the deadline for shareholders to accept its 190p a share takeover offer to 16 December.

Russia-focused gold miner Petropavlovsk fell 0.9% to 26.95p, having announced the appointment of Denis Alexandrov as its chief executive.

Alexandrov was previously CEO of rival Russian producer Highland Gold Mining.

Fellow resources group Hochschild Mining firmed 0.9% to 214.8p as it maintained its annual output guidance, despite halting operations at its San Jose mine in Argentina after a surge in Covid-19 infections prompted lockdowns.

Subject to permission from the authorities, Hochschild said it was expecting to restart limited operations on 4 December.

Pet products and veterinary group Pets at Home shed 0.2% to 423p on news that it had acquired veterinary telemedicine company The Vet Connection for £15 million.

Disease test kit supplier Omega Diagnostics gained 5.4% to 49p, even as it posted a first-half loss after the pandemic hurt sales at its food intolerance division.

Omega Diagnostics, however, said it expected to post a significantly improved performance in the second half.

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