- The FTSE 100 remained in positive territory this afternoon ahead of a crunch summit for the European Central Bank tomorrow. At close the index of leading UK shares was up 0.55% at 7,430.91.

A positive sector note from broker Liberum helped support gains for housebuilding stocks.

Barratt Developments (BDEV) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.) led the sector higher and rose more than 2% to 607p and 185.9p, respectively. Persimmon (PSN) ticked up 2% to £24.34.


Strong healthcare stocks and better-than-expected results from Morgan Stanley helped the S&P 500 to new record levels at the open on Wall Street. Tech giant IBM disappointed as it reported a 21st straight quarter of lower revenue.


Nurofen owner Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) agreed to sell its Food business to McCormick & Company for $4.2bn on a cash-free, debt-free basis, but this failed to spark the share price at £79.21. The division includes the French's, Frank's RedHot and Cattlemen's brands. Reckitt Benckiser was among the top blue-chip risers, up 1.4% to £79.18.

In corporate news, BHP Billiton (BLT) achieved full year production guidance for petroleum and iron ore, with annual production records at Western Australia Iron Ore, Spence and two Queensland Coal mines. Despite the strong results, the stock ticked up 0.5% at £13.19.

Utility giant Severn Trent (SVT) reaffirmed its full-year trading performance was in-line with its expectations. Shares in the firm remained stable at £22.29.


QinetiQ (QQ.) said orders in its EMEA Services division were slower than expected with some customer contract award decisions deferred or delayed. The company also warned the recent General Election presented both opportunities and challenges, which was not received well by the market as the stock declined 9.4% to 248.5p.

Despite paring some of its losses power generation firm Drax (DRX) remained among the biggest mid-cap fallers after reporting a loss before tax of £83m in the first half of 2017. This was significantly lower than £184m pre-tax profit in the first six months of 2016, triggering a 3.8% drop to 332.4p.

Shares in RPC (RPC) were heading in the opposite direction after revenues in the first half of 2017 hit £960m. This was 'well ahead' of the same period last year thanks to continued organic growth, the contribution from acquisitions and positive foreign exchange movements. Shares in the plastics products designer jumped 4.4% to 879.5p

Hungarian airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) flew 1.6% higher to £26.30 on a record profit of €58.1m in the three months to 30 June 2017. The company also appointed Stephen Jones as executive vice-president and deputy chief executive officer.


Shares in The People's Operator (TPOP) recovered to post a 4.2% gain after earlier crashing on management changes. Chief executive officer Mark Epstein resigning with immediate effect.

Irish newspaper publisher Independent News & Media (INM) falls 11.8% in late afternoon trading after warning of a 'material reduction' in its profit expectations below consensus estimates thanks to ongoing challenges facing its industry.

Gene editing firm Horizon Discovery (HZD) agreed to buy Dharmacon for £65m from General Electric and plans to raise £80m by issuing new shares at 205p. The stock surged 17.5% to 252p.

Elsewhere, TT Electronics (TTG) announced it intends to dispose of its transportation sensing and control division to AVX for £118.8m to help the company invest in structural growth markets. Shares in TT increased 12.1% to 206.25p.

A strong first trading update from Morgan Sindall (MGNS) prompted a 4.5% rise to £12.75. The construction company said it expects pre-tax profit to hit £23.5m, up 45% from last year.

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