StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened modestly higher in early trade on Tuesday as optimism from brighter corporate earnings updates was tempered by rising infection rates of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

At 0823, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 10.22 points, or 0.1%, at 7.142,52.

Accommodation giant Intercontinental Hotels edged up less than 0.1% to £47.38, having swung to a modest first-half profit, citing an improvement in demand, most evident in China.

Intercontinental Hotels, however, still refrained from declaring an interim dividend.

Gambling company Flutter Entertainment rallied 5.0% to £13.581 after it reported a better-than-expected trebling of first-half profit amid a bounce back in sports betting activity.

Flutter didn't declare a dividend either and said its payout policy would be 'kept under review', with a medium-term leverage target of 1-2 times retained.

Wealth manager Abrdn rose 0.4% to 299p as it swung to a £113 million first-half profit, underpinned by higher fee revenue and lower impairments.

Abrdn left its interim dividend unchanged at 7.3p per share.

Rival wealth manager M&G slipped 1.2% to 235.2p, having swung to a first-half loss due to movements in the market value of its assets, though its underlying performance improved.

M&G's adjusted pre-tax operating profit rose 6% to £327 million after positive market movements and net institutional inflows offset net retail outflows. It declared an interim dividend of 6.1p per share.

Hedge-fund manager Man firmed 1.4% to 212.15p on announcing that it would commence a $100 million buyback.

The programme would run from 10 August to 9 August 2022.

Luxury watches and jewellery retailer Watches of Switzerland ticked 2.2% higher to £10.4634 on announcing that its first-quarter revenue had almost doubled, putting it on track to meet its annual guidance.

Watches of Switzerland's revenue for the three months through June had jumped 96% year-on-year to £297.5 million.

Companies investor Witan Investment Trust was flat at 247p after it posted a positive first-half performance that beat its benchmark and lifted its dividend.

Witan declared a second interim quarterly dividend of 1.36p per share, brining first-half dividends 2.72p, up from 2.68p year-on-year.

Safety products investor Marlowe gained 6.9% to 803.64p on news that it had decided to no longer pursue an acquisition of document management group Restore.

Restore last month rejected a £743 million cash and share offer by Marlow worth 530p per share, including 71p cash, claiming it was too low. Restore reversed 1.5% to 496.5p.

Auto dealer Marshall Motor revved 2.7% higher to 250.6p, having swung to a first-half profit and reinstated its dividend at 8.86p per share after demand bounced back as lockdowns eased.

Marshall Motor forecast a potentially tougher second half, however, citing vehicle supply problems.

Investment bank and broker Numis shed 0.2% to 374.25p on announcing that chairman Alan Carruthers would stand down at its annual general meeting in February.

Carruthers, who took up the role in March 2017, would be replaced by current non-executive director Luke Savage.

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