UPDATE 1-FTSE 100 supported by energy stocks as virus concerns weigh

13 Jan 2021 / 17:23 H.

    (For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

    * Persimmon falls on lower revenue, COVID-19 restrictions weigh

    * Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines on track - Health Secretary

    * Fashion retailer ASOS jumps on full-year profit forecast

    * FTSE 100 flat, FTSE 250 falls 0.3% (Updates prices, adds comment)

    By Shashank Nayar

    Jan 13 (Reuters) - The FTSE 100 was largely muted on Wednesday, as a rise in energy stocks was countered by caution around rising cases of COVID-19 and lockdowns in Europe.

    The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was unchanged. Energy stocks were the top gainers after oil prices jumped more than 1%, while homebuilder Persimmon was the second-biggest loser on the index.

    Persimmon slid 2.2% after it reported a 9% fall in 2020 revenue and flagged risks to its construction sites from the fast-spreading new variant of COVID-19 that has spurred calls for an even tighter UK lockdown.

    "Investors are still wondering where the next big catalyst for further upside will come from, and are painfully aware that the COVID-19 crisis remains untamed despite the introduction of vaccination programmes," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

    The mid-cap index fell 0.3%.

    The export-heavy FTSE 100 has recorded consistent monthly gains since November, supported by hopes of a vaccine-led economic recovery, but it has recently lost steam as a wave of coronavirus infections sparked new business restrictions.

    Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to Britain are on track and sufficient to meet the government's vaccination targets, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, although he declined to give figures on supplies.

    British bookmaker William Hill, which is set to be taken over by U.S. casino operator Caesars Entertainment , gained 0.2% even as it posted a drop in annual revenue on a hit from COVID-19 lockdowns and sports events cancellations.

    Global recruiter PageGroup fell 1.2% after it posted a 20% drop in fourth-quarter gross profit due to a coronavirus-led hiring slump, but said Mainland China and Japanese markets grew in December.

    British online fashion retailer ASOS jumped 1.3% on forecasting a full-year profit after Christmas trading surpassed its expectations, helped by strong demand during lockdowns. (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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