StockMarketWire.com - Gains in utilities helped the FTSE 100 open in positive territory, up 0.1% at 7,519 around midday.

United Utilities sparked 2.2% to 719.8p and Severn Trent nudged 0.4% higher to £18.56.

Another noticeable riser was oil major BP, up 1.1% at 596.1p.

Brent crude oil was up 0.3% at $83 per barrel. Copper shed 0.6% to $2.77 per pound and gold declined 0.5% to $1,185 per ounce.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Strikes and higher costs took their toll on airline Ryanair which cut its annual profit guidance by 12% from between €1.25bn to €1.35bn to a new range of €1.1bn to €1.2bn, dragging the shares 9.3% lower to €11.90. Other airlines also fell in response including a 3% decline in EasyJet.

Specialist financial services company Just Group slumped 5.6% to 83.4p on chief financial officer Simon Thomas' decision to step down after 12 years of service. David Richardson will take over the role on an interim basis.

Outsourcer Mitie was flat at 147.6p despite revealing plans to sell its pest control business to Rentokil for £40m as concerns around trading subdued sentiment.

Mining colossus Rio Tinto reported its joint venture partners Mitsui and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo plan to invest $1.55bn to keep production capacity going at two iron ore projects in Western Australia. Shares in Rio Tinto were broadly unmoved at £38.62.

UK supermarket Tesco dipped 1% to 237.4p after Tesco Bank agreed to pay a £16.4m fine following a cyber attack.

Pharma giant AstraZeneca completed a deal with Cheplapharm Arzneimittel for the commercial rights to heart failure treatment Atacand and Atacand Plus. The news failed to spark any gains at £59.55.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

European Metals rallied 14.6% to 22.3p on 'significant advancements' in the development of the Cinovec Lithium-Tin project.

In the same sector, Avocet Mining warned it could be broken up amid talks with activist investor Elliott concerning debt restructuring, prompting a 35.2% crash in the share price to 7.7p.


Story provided by StockMarketWire.com