- The FTSE 100 drifted lower to 7,539 as small gains in utility firms failed to offset weakness in banking stocks.

News that a price cap on energy bills would be unlikely to come into effect before this winter helped British Gas owner Centrica (CNA) rise 1.8% and SSE (SSE) advance 1.5%.

Banks were among the top blue-chip fallers, with HSBC (HSBA) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) slipping 0.7% and 0.9%, respectively.

Brent crude oil was up 0.3% at $56.77 per barrel. Copper was flat at $3.04 per pound and gold slid 0.3% to $1,286 per ounce.


Overnight, the US enjoyed strong gains, partially driven by a strong performance by ASDA owner Walmart, which rallied 4.5%.

The S&P 500 closed 0.2% higher at 2,550.

In Asia, Japan's index Nikkei 225 hit its highest level in over two decades as investors were optimistic over strong corporate results and upbeat economic data.


Media reports suggested that activist hedge fund Elliot Management is building a stake in medical device maker Smith & Nephew (SN.), which gained 3% to £13.99. At last year's annual shareholder meeting, there was a shareholder rebellion, which implies a good opportunity for Elliot to enter the firm.

Home furnishings retailer Dunelm (DNLM) enjoyed a 5.8% lift in its share first-quarter like-for-like sales increased 9.3%, despite some margin contraction.

Packaging firm Mondi (MNDI) disappointed the market after warning its performance for the full year would be modestly below market expectations, causing the stock to deflate 8.1% to £19.19.

New business at wealth manager Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) helped its assets under administration rise by 4% and boosted third quarter sales by 15%, but this failed to spark the share price at £14.93.

A poor performance in the UK hit recruitment consultancy PageGroup (PAGE) as its shares slumped 7% to 488.7p. Investors overlooked an 11.8% rise in third-quarter profit, driven by strong results abroad.

A £9m contract with Heathrow Airport for defence firm Ultra Electronics (ULE) failed to move the stock at £18.25.

Countryside Properties (CSP) nudged 0.2% higher to 348.9p despite completions increasing 28% to 3,389 homes in the year to the end of September 2017.


Fashion retailer Quiz (QUIZ) was off to a strong start to trading on the stock market as revenue was up 35% in the six months to 30 September. Investors were disappointed by a lack of earnings upgrades as the stock fell 4.7% to 178p.

Property developer Telford Homes (TEF) warned its pre-tax profit for the first half of 2018 will be significantly lower than the second half thanks to the timing of certain projects, causing its shares to decline 1.8% to 401p.

News that Alpha Returns Group (ARGP) needed a new nominated adviser by 20 November to avoid being kicked off AIM wiped a quarter off the company's value.

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