StockMarketWire.com - The UK market plunged during mid-morning trading on Thursday, with stocks falling as investors became increasingly nervous over continuing tensions between the US and China.

Political uncertainty also dominated markets with polling underway for the European elections.

At midday, the benchmark FTSE 100 index traded 1.5% lower at 7,227.31.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Legoland-to-Alton Towers theme parks operator Merlin Entertainments rallied more than 4% to 346.9p after activist shareholder ValueAct Capital urged the company to go private.

Outsourcing group Serco leapt 8.2% to 131p after buying a US defence business in an earnings-enhancing deal.

Pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers added 7% to 259.5p after it reported a 4.1% increase in first-half like-for-like sales and a return to operating profit growth. This came as it continued to outperform the market even amid continued uncertainty from the UK political and economic landscape.

Testing and certification firm Intertek shed 2.3% to £50.66 even as it reported a rise in revenues for the first four months of the year as a recent string of acquisitions in "attractive" growth and margin sectors bolstered growth, keeping the company on track to meet its expectations.

Brickmaker Ibstock rose 2.2% to 251.6p after it reported a "solid" start to the year, but also said it expected that performance would be second-half weighted, as it continued its maintenance programme.

Car dealership Inchcape gained 2.4% to 571p after it launched a £100m buyback programme as trading in the first four months of the year met its expectations, supported by 'good' growth in its distribution division.

Private hospital company Mediclinic International fell 1.4% to 326.8p after it posted a 4% fall in its full-year adjusted earnings, in line with expectations, due to a changing regulatory environment in Switzerland, the location of its Hirslanden hospital group. However, the company left its guidance unchanged.

Food ingredients maker Tate & Lyle fell 4.1% to 759.4p after it posted a drop in full-year pre-tax profit as higher costs and a fall in its primary products division took their toll while market conditions remained challenging.

Fresh food maker Bakkavor Group added 2.6% to 125p after it left its full-year outlook unchanged as trading since the end of the last year met expectations despite ongoing subdued consumer confidence and inflationary pressures.

Pub chain Young & Co dropped 0.5% to £18.38 after it reported an 8.7% increase in full-year total revenue even against the challenging market backdrop. This came on the back of strong performance from the company's managed house division, which was enhanced by the acquisition of 15 Redcomb pubs.

Discounted goods retailer B&M dropped 4.2% to 363.9p even as it reported 'strong' results as annual pre-tax profits grew despite a 'challenging' retail backdrop amid rising costs and increasing consumer uncertainty.

Security tech firm QinetiQ grew 4.9% to 311.4p as it said a 32% increase in orders drove its full-year 2019 revenue and operational growth, while it sees "mid-single digit" revenue growth for 2020.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Baby products specialist Mothercare lost 3.5% to 20.6p after it said it would postpone the publication of its full-year financial results by one day to 7am on Friday, 24 May as a result of the complexity of its financial year.

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