StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened higher on Tuesday, even as the unemployment rate rose, as some large local companies released mixed earnings results.

At 0827, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 21.22 points, or 0.3%, at 6,633.46.

The rise marked a continuing of upward momentum from Monday afternoon after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a blueprint for lifting Britain's Covid-19 lockdowns

The UK unemployment rate rose to 5.1% in the three months through December, as expected, up from 5.0% previously.

Banking giant HSBC fell 1.9% to 423.6p as it reported a 34% drop in annual profit owing to higher credit losses and lower interest rates.

HSBC resumed dividends with a 15c per share payout and said it would assume a payout ratio of between 40% and 55% of reported earnings per share.

Life insurer Aviva added 0.6% to 377p, having sold its French unit to Aema Groupe for €3.2 billion as part of a plan to focus on its UK, Ireland and Canada businesses.

The deal covered Aviva's French life, general insurance, and asset management businesses and its 75% stake in UFF5.

Hotel chain Intercontinental Hotels rose 3.9% to £55.18, even after it reported a deep annual loss as sales were hammered by the pandemic’s impact on the tourism sector.

Intercontinental Hotels paid no dividends for 2020, but said it was eyeing a recovery in trading later in the year amid the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

Investment manager Standard Life Aberdeen climbed 0.7% to 328.6p on news that it would acquire investment platform businesses from insurer Phoenix for £62.5 million, while extending and simplifying their existing relationship.

Standard Life Aberdeen also would sell the 'Standard Life' brand to Phoenix during the course of 2021, but pay Phoenix another £32 million in return for it bearing the cost of transferring staff.

Frasers, formerly Sport Direct, firmed 3.6% to 476.4p despite warning of a non-cash writedown of more than £100 million.

The sportswear and equipment retailer pinned the writedown on the impact of the current lockdown and shift in consumer behaviour to online shopping.

Infrastructure investor Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund shed 0.8% to 107.34p as it launched a £172.9 million share placing to pay down debt and pursue investment opportunities.

New shares in the company were being offered at 105.25p each, a 2.7% discount to their closing price on Monday.

Listed infrastructure investor HICL added 0.6% to 169.2p after it said it remained on track to deliver its dividend target as the impact of pandemic lockdowns had 'largely been mitigated.'

Sub-prime lender Non-Standard Finance gained 6.4% to 3.74p, even after it said that it was planning a 'substantial' equity raising to support growth, avoid covenant breaches and address uncertainties about remaining a going concern.

Non-Standard Finance said it had commenced planning work on the raising with the support of largest shareholder Alchemy, with a view to completing it in the second quarter of 2021.

Transport analytics group Tracsis edged up 0.1% to 658.6p on guiding for slightly lower first-half earnings, owing to the pandemic hurting sales at its events and traffic-data business. At 8:45am:

[LON:FRAS] Frasers Group PLC share price was 0p at 461.2p

[LON:HSBA] HSBC Holdings PLC share price was 0p at 372.7p

[LON:IHG] Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC share price was 0p at 4477p

[LON:SLA] Standard Life Aberdeen PLC share price was 0p at 260.8p



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