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LONDON: 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.

The mid-cap index fell 0.3%.

British bookmaker William Hill, which is set to be taken over by US 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.

“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.—Reuters