StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks drifted lower at the open on Friday despite signs of progress in US-China trade relations, as local investors continued to grapple with the growing likelihood of national elections in either October or November.

At 0823, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 8.50 points, or 0.1%, at 7.262.67.

Residential developer Berkley firmed 1.9% to 3,946p after it said market conditions in London and southeast England remained 'robust' in the first four months of its financial year, with pricing stable and forward sales above £1.8bn.

Pub group Greene King was broadly flat at 841p, despite posting a 1.8% fall in year-to-date like-for-like sales, which it pinned on the tough comparatives of last year's football World Cup and good weather.

Building materials supplier SIG dropped 5.4% to 122.1p as it booked a 73% fall in first-half profit, owing to lower sales, one-off restructuring costs and asset writedowns.

Emerging-market asset manager Ashmore gained 0.6% to 457.2p as its annual profit increased 15%, amid investment gains and higher net fund inflows.

Mining services provider Weir firmed 1.4% to 1,506p on news that it had won a £100m order to provide energy-saving solutions to the Iron Bridge magnetite project in Australia.

General insurance investor Randall & Quilter rallied 9.8% to 171.26p after it booked a large rise in first-half profit, underpinned by acquisitions and an improved investment performance.

Logistics company Xpediator shed 1.7% to 23.1p on announcing that chief financial officer Stuart Howard had stood down, with immediate effect, to pursue other business interests.

LED lighting manufacturer ProPhotonix fell 2.2% to 3.08p as it posted a first-half loss, owing to lower sales in its laser and diode business, and said it was reviewing its strategic options.

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