UK stocks open flat as investors await Fed update

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UK stocks tracked sideways in early trading on Wednesday as investors awaited an update from the Fed about the outlook for the US economy.

At 0823, the benchmark FTSE 100 index had edged down 3.82 points to 6,101.72.

House builder Redrow shed 0.5% to 454p, having reported a 66% slump in full-year profit after the Covid-19 crisis weighed on the construction sector.

Redrow scrapped its final dividend, but added that, based on trading to date and its forward order book, it expected to resume dividend payments in 2021.

Construction company Galliford Try gained 6.4% to 93.54p, as it reported narrower losses and suggested it, too, could resume dividends in the not-too-distance future.

Galliford Try said it would revive payouts when it returned to profit, which it said it was expecting to happen in the current financial year through June.

Employment background verification company ClearStar rallied 18% to 38.5p on news that it had accepted a £14.7m takeover from a Hanover Investors, pitched at 40p a share.

Outdoor advertising group Ocean Outdoor was unchanged at 5,95, as it posted a deeper first-half loss after sales were hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

Ocean Outdoor said it had seen a week-on-week trading improvement since May, with the third quarter tracking significantly better than the second.

Commercial vehicle rental group Redde Northgate reversed 2.0% to 216.5p after it posted a fall in annual profit and cut its dividend, partly owing to one-off merger costs and pressure on revenue from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Redde Northgate said that in first four months of the new financial year, performance indicators across the company had fully recovered or substantially improved.

Iron deficiency focused Shield Therapeutics added 1.4% to 107p as it swung to a first-half profit on the back of a large jump in revenue.

Cafe, bar, and restaurant operator Loungers firmed 4.6% to 160p, even as it reported wider annual losses as government-imposed lockdowns forced the company to halt operations.

Loungers also said that since reopening its sites, performance had rebounded with like-for-like sales growing 30% from 4 July to 13 September.

Professional services group RBG slumped 9.0% to 66.01p, having posted a lower first-half profit and deferred its dividend, after higher staff costs and a previous-year investment gain offset a rise in revenue.

RBG said it had decided to postpone a decision regarding any dividend until the end of the year.