StockMarketWire.com - Speculation over whether the Bank of England will actually hike interest rates set the backdrop to a weak FTSE 100, which fell 1.2% to 7,557 around midday.

UK construction output rose at its fastest pace since May 2017 according to Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index, which jumped from 53.1 in June to 55.8 in July. A figure over 50 implies growth while one under 50 suggests contraction.

Miners were among the stocks severely hit with Fresnillo dropping 4.3% to 980.4p and Antofagasta retreating 4% to 941.6p. Rio Tinto and Glencore followed its peers lower.

Brent crude oil slipped 0.6% to $72 per barrel.

MID AND LARGE RISERS AND FALLERS

Rolls-Royce announced it expects underlying profit and cash flow this year to hit the upper half of its forecasts thanks to better than anticipated growth in its civil aerospace and power systems divisions. Shares in the engineering specialist advanced 3.9% to £10.26.

London Stock Exchange Group enjoyed double-digit sales growth in information services, clearing and capital markets, helping boost profitability in the six months to 30 June and the stock by 3.2% to £44.97.

It was a mixed bag at Mitchell & Butlers as the World Cup drove drink sales higher although food sales were negatively impacted. Investors focused on the negatives as the shares dropped 4.3% to 246.4p.

High street bank Barclays was down 2.3% at 187.2p as investors focused on a £2bn litigation-based hit instead of a robust underlying performance.

Insurer Aviva dipped 1.5% to 488.2p despite lower profits failing to hold back a 10% hike in the dividend. Aviva said weaker trading in Canada, adverse weather and business divestments were to blame for falling profits.

Rival RSA Insurance also struggled as bad weather over the first half of 2018 hit operating profit by 15% to £304m, but the shares only nudged 0.8% lower to 636.4p.

Medical products supplier ConvaTec received a 1.5% boost to 223.7p as sales grew 10.8% to $921.3m and full year guidance was reiterated.

Kaz Minerals agreed to acquire the Baimskaya copper project in Russia for $900m in cash and shares. Shares in the miner fell 22% to 640p, adjusting to the implied dilution.

Lower iron ore prices and higher costs weighed in Ferrexpo's performance, dragging the shares 15.1% lower to 171.4p.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Shares in UK estate agent Countrywide plummeted 63.9% to 18p following a heavily discounted emergency fundraising of £140m to deliver its turnaround plan.

Stride Gaming received a notice from the UK's Gambling Commission to pay a 'significant' financial penalty after a review was carried out on its licensed activities. Shares in Stride dropped 34.9% to 82p.


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