- Gains for index heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell on surging oil prices as OPEC opted not to increase supply helped boost the FTSE 100 on Thursday afternoon.

By the close the FTSE was down 0.4% at 6,650.88 shaking off the worst of its losses from the day which were driven by inflation fears. By 4.30pm UK time the S&P 500 was up 0.3% to 3,829.85

Insurance company Aviva reported a fall in annual profit owing to the impact of Covid-19 and a fall in gross written premiums.

For the year ended 31 December 2020, pre-tax profit fell to £2.57 billion from £3.82 million year-on-year as gross premiums fell to £29.02 billion from £29.71 billion. In spite of the news, its share price rose 1.6% to 389.3p as it announced an exit from its Italian business, the latest in a series of disposals.

Admiral, meanwhile, reported that annual profit rose by a fifth as claims frequency fell as people drove less during lockdowns. For 2020, pre-tax profit rose to £637.6 million from £522.6 million as turnover grew 2% to £3.55 billion. Its share price, however, fell 2.8% to £30.65.

Coats reported a fall in annual profit owing to the impact of the pandemic, but the thread manufacturer reinstated its dividend, citing an 'encouraging' recovery.

For the year ended 31 December 2020, pre-tax profit fell $79.6 million from $166.8 million as revenue slipped 16% to $1.16 billion. Its share price surrendered earlier gains to trade 5.3% lower at 60.5p.

Defence company Chemring said performance since the onset of the current financial year had been as expected for both its sectors, though flagged a potential drag on performance from a stronger pound. This saw its share price drop 3.4% to 269.5p.

Order intake in the period to 28 February 2021 was £128 million, down from £132 million, with a book to bill ratio slipping to 127% from 125%. The company said its expected 2021 revenue was now 89%

Molten metal flow engineering and technology company, Vesuvius, has seen a £252.1 million fall in revenues as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The group's revenue for the year to December 31, 2020, stands at £1,458.3 million, down from £1,710.4 million in 2019.

The news had a significant impact on its share price, which tumbled 7.4% to 510p.

Elsewhere, Schroders has seen a small increase in pre-tax profits, rising to £702.3 million in 2020 from £701.2 million the year prior, although its share price fell 2.9% to £34.87. The asset manager recorded £42.5 billion in net inflows and assets under management increased by 15%, up from £500.2 billion in 2019, to a record high of £574.4 billion.

Variety goods value retailer B&M European Value Retail's share price fell 2.7% to 529.6p despite upgrading its outlook on performance as revenue and margin remained 'strong' year to date.

The company now expects EBITDA, a measure of underlying business performance, for FY21 to be in the range of £590 million to £620 million, up from the previous range announced on 7 January 2021 of £540 million to £570 million.

Rentokil Initial saw its share price advance 0.8% to 480.7p, in spite of it reporting a 6.3% rise in ongoing revenue for 2020 and meeting its medium growth target.

Housebuilder Vistry announced an adjusted pre-tax profit of £143.9 million, boosted by strong performance in the second half of 2020 and resumed dividends. The shares advanced 3.7% to 944.5p.

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