StockMarketWire.com - Continuing strength in US stocks at the open provides a cue for solid gains from the FTSE 100.

At the close the index of leading UK shares was up 0.9% at 7,430.62, wiping out the losses from earlier in the week on renewed tensions over North Korea.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

The S&P 500 opens solidly higher at 2,468.04, putting it on course for a fifth straight positive trading session.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Reports in a business magazine suggested pharmaceutical business AstraZeneca (AZN) had offered to buy Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo, a business magazine reports on Thursday. That sent shares in the Japanese firm soaring before trade was suspended, AstraZeneca was up 2% to £45.44.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Support services business Serco (SRP) gained 8.5% to 117.8p as investment bank UBS upgraded its rating on the stock to 'buy'.

Restaurant Group (RTN) reported a 30% drop in half year underlying pre-tax profit on Thursday, as slowing consumer spending weighed on sales. But shares in the Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's owner rallied by close on 10% at 347.8p with investors relieved to hear of a bulging pipeline of growth opportunities and progress with a Frankie & Benny's value proposition despite the dividend staying flat at 6.8p per share.

Online gambling firm 888 (888) has been handed a record £7.8m fine by the Gambling Commission after it failed to protect vulnerable customers. Investors were clearly relieved that the penalty was not more substantial, explaining a near 4% rally in the 888 share price to 263p.

The industry watchdog found 'significant flaws' in the firm's social responsibility processes and highlighted a technical failure which meant 7,000 customers who had chosen to bar themselves from their 888 accounts were still able to gamble.

Asset management software supplier Alfa Financial (ALFA) posted a storming set of half year results, its first since listing back in May. The figures show constant currency revenue growth of 29% and a 20% hike in earnings before interest and tax. The stock advanced nearly 5% to 455p.

British betting company Ladbrokes Coral (LCL) posts a 7% rise in first half operating profits on which it said was due to strong trading online. That growth rate leaves investors fairly cold, the stock up just 0.3% to 118p.

Recruiter Hays (HAS) declared a special dividend of 4.25p per share after posting higher full year profit. The 18% hike in pre-tax profit was supported by growth in continental Europe and improving hiring trends in the UK as the impact of the Brexit vote fades, lifting the share price by 6% to 183p.


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