StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened stronger on Friday after US markets hits a record high amid expectations that the Fed could cut rates.

At 0835, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 20.07 points, or 0.3%, at 7.529.89.

Struggling travel company Thomas Cook slumped 36% after revealing that it was in advanced discussions with largest shareholder Fosun and its core lending banks about a potential £750m recapitalisation and break-up of the group.

The move, which would see Fosen take a majority stake in Thomas Cook's tour operator business and a minority stake in its airline, would result in existing shareholders being 'significantly diluted'.

Thomas Cook also warned that it would post a fall in second-half operating earnings.

Advertising company WPP added 0.5% on announcing that it had agreed to sell 60% of its data and analytics unit Kantar to Bain Capital in a deal that valued the business at around $4bn including debt.

Proceeds to WPP on completion after tax and continuing investment in Kantar were expected to be around $3.1bn (£2.5bn), of which around $1.2bn (£1.0bn) would be returned to shareholders.

Insurance company Hiscox fell 5.1% after it downgraded its profit guidance following a string of bad weather events, including a typhoon in Japan and a hurricane in Florida.

Fitness centre chain The Gym Group rose 5.6% after it said its revenue had jumped 27% in its first half.

Asset manager Ashmore reversed 2.7%, despite boosting its assets under management by 7.5% in the second quarter. Net inflows amounted to $3.3m, though though company experienced a small net outflow from its equities funds.

Rival fund manager Miton Group fell 2.4%, despite posting an 8% rise in first-half assets under management. The rise was due to market performance, which offset £82m of net outflows from the company's funds.

Aviation services group John Menzies shed 0.6% after announcing that chairman Dermot F Smurfit had stood down with immediate effect. He had been replaced by current non-executive director Philipp Joeinig.

Car retailer Lookers tumbled 26% as it warned that its profits would take a hit this year, amid falling consumer demand for cars and rising costs.

Science Group added 1.0% as it increased its holding in takeover target Frontier Smart Technologies Group to 35.8%. Frontier shares fell 1.4%.

Cybersecurity company Sophos gained 2.2% on announcing that its revenue had grown by 3% in the first quarter, as growth in subscription sales offset a fall in hardware sales.

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