StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks had a volatile morning on Thursday but traded flat around midday as investors await the outcome of crucial US-China trade talks later in the day.

Mixed reports ahead of the meeting created uncertainty in the market, with investors concerned about the fact that should the talks fail, the US intends to increase tariffs on Chinese goods.

Despite earlier volatility, the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index was relatively flat at 1157, trading five points below yesterday's close at 7,161.41.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Paper and packaging company Mondi clawed back some gains having started the day as one of the biggest fallers. Its share price was last seen 1.6% lower at £15.21.

It reported an 18% decline in underlying EBITDA for the third quarter of 2019 to €383m, as demand remained generally softer and prices for key paper grades were below those of the first half.

The company said planned mill maintenance shuts during the quarter had an estimated impact on underlying EBITDA of around €40m, up from €30m in 2018.

Competitors DS Smith and Smurfit Kappa were also affected, and fell 2.2% to 330p and 0.8% to £24.16 respectively.

Homewares retailer Dunelm Group descended 7.7% to 752p as it said like-for-like sales increased 6% in its fiscal first quarter despite the recent softness in the homewares market and the increased political uncertainty.

Like for like sales increased by 6.4% in the first quarter, while total growth was up 7.5% to £262.6m from a year earlier.

Hargreaves Lansdown moved 2% lower to £17.80 after it reported that net assets grew 3% in the third quarter of the year, while net new business was impacted by 'weak' investor sentiment arising from ongoing Brexit and political uncertainty in the UK and wider global macro issues such as trade tariffs.

Automotive distributor Inchcape traded flat at 606p after it agreed to sell its Inchcape Fleet Solutions business to Toyota for £100m.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Fashion retailer N Brown flew 7.8% higher to 108p after it reported strong growth in online sales in the first half. The business has repositioned to an online only retailer and shut all of its stores last year.

The company said adjusted pre-tax profit rose 3.9% to £31.8m for the six months ended 31 August.

Premier Asset Management fell 1% to 174.7p as it reported a slight decline in assets under management, and saw outflows of £246m for the fourth quarter ended 30 September. Avesoro Resources declined 2.7% to 90p as it said full-year guidance remained under review after operational issues hurt production in the third quarter.

New Liberty gold production fell 57% to 22,678 ounces in the third quarter from the previous quarter, and Youga gold production slipped 6% to 14,619 ounces in the quarter, from the second quarter.


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