- The FTSE 100 remained in positive territory, supported by gains in healthcare and airline stocks.

The blue-chip index advanced 0.2% to 7,731.

Low-cost airline EasyJet (EZJ) boosted sales by 14.4% in the quarter to 31 December and completed the acquisition of Air Berlin. Shares in the company flew 5.1% higher to £16.43.

British Airways owner International Airlines (IAG) failed to acquire the assets of failed Austrian airline Niki. Investors overlooked this as the shares gained 1.5% to 659.8p.

Brent crude oil rallied 1.3% to $70 per barrel. Copper remained weak, down 2.3% at $3.10 per pound. Gold gained 0.4% to $1,335 per ounce.


Wall Street remained strong following the end of the US shutdown on Monday. The Nasdaq led the way, up 0.6% at 7,454 around 4:45pm UK time.


Funeral services provider Dignity (DTY) was up 5.4% at £10.08 after John Stewart Jakes revealed a 4% stake in the company, which recently issued a profit warning.

Broadband provider Sky (SKY) advanced 2.3% to £10.26 after the UK Competition and Markets Authority said 21st Century Fox's proposed takeover was not in the public interest.

An upgrade to 'buy' from stockbroker Berenberg on Croda (CRDA) triggered a 2.8% rally to £45.97.

Medical technology firm Smith & Nephew (SN.) announced it expects a corporate tax rate of between 20% and 21% thanks to recent US tax reforms. The positive update boosted its shares by 2% to £12.60.

Pets at Home (PETS) announced sales were up 9.6% to £223.3m between 13 October and 4 January, pushing the stock 8.8% to 198.1p.

National Grid (NG.) dimmed 0.9% to 820.5p on UK regulator Ofgem's pricing model for the Hinkley-Seabank transmission project.

Upper Crust owner and food outlet operator SSP (SSPG) fattened 6% to 675p on a 12.2% rise in sales in its third quarter.

Icy weather dragged on pub operator Marston's (MARS) trading. The stock fell 1.3% to 113.1p after bad weather hit like-for-like sales by 0.9% in the 16 weeks to 20 January.

Fashion retailer N Brown (BWNG) shed 17% to 231.4p following downgraded product gross margin guidance from between -70 and -90 basis points (bps) to a range of -225 and -250bps.

IT service provider FDM (FDM) enjoyed a strong performance at the end of 2017 thanks to a 17% jump in the number of IT consultants.

Spread better IG (IGG) was feeling lucky as pre-tax profits rose 29% to £136.2m in the six months to 30 November. The shares were broadly unmoved at 975p.


Velocity Composites (VEL) slumped 4.9% to 1.07p after gross margins were lower than anticipated due to ramped up new product lines, offsetting increased operational efficiencies.

Kainos (KNOS) rose 2.4% to 386p on the back of strong half year results. Sales orders nearly doubled to £63.4m in the six months to 30 September.

A £3m grant from Innovate UK to Oxford BioMedica (OXB) failed to boost the shares, which fell 4.3% to 10.6p.

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