StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened lower on Wednesday as uncertainty over the course of Brexit negotiations and the state of US-China trade relations continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

At 0852, the benchmark FTSE 100 was down 23.36 points, or 0.3%, at 7.154.01.

House builder Barratt Developments gained 2.6% after it unveiled a 19% rise in first-half profit driven by higher completions and stronger margins.

Rival builder Redrow climbed 1.0% on news it had declared a special cash payout to shareholders amid a 5% rise in first-half profit.

Plastics supplier Victrex fell 2.7% on announcing that its first-quarter revenue slumped, due to market headwinds, de-stocking and adverse currency movements.

Water utility Severn Trent shed 0.3% after announcing that it would post a full-year performance in line with its prior guidance.

AstraZeneca dropped 0.9%, despite announcing that US regulators had granted orphan drug status for its treatment for hypereosinophilic syndrome, a rare condition that can damage organs in the body.

Financial services company Just Group added 0.5% as it posted a 15% rise in annual new business sales, buoyed by increased demand for retirement income products.

Brick maker Ibstock firmed 0.7% on announcing it had poached Tate & Lyle's Chrish McLeish to be its new chief financial officer, to replace Kevin Sims, who had decided to retire by year-end.

Industrial and electronics products supplier Electrocomponents gained 2.2% as it notched 6% growth in like-for-like revenue in the fourth months through January on-year.

Broking house WH Ireland dropped 9.7% after it warned that volatile market conditions had hit revenue across all of its businesses, while its costs had also risen.

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