- Strength in the pound against the dollar helped trip up the FTSE 100 in late trading on Thursday. By the close the index of leading UK shares was flat at around 7,250.

In contrast, a more conciliatory tone from US president Donald Trump over Russia and Syria supported a robust start to trading on Wall Street with the S&P 500 up 0.85% to 2,665.01 just after 4pm UK time

British Airways-owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) dipped 0.9% to 610p on news of stake building in Norwegian Air ahead of a potential takeover bid.


Over 50s insurer and travel provider Saga (SAGA) reported a 7.6% drop in pre-tax profit for its January 2018 financial year, reflecting the impact of a refinancing carried out during the period. However underlying profit was up slightly, and the shares gained 5.8% to 123.8p in response.

Travel operator FirstGroup (FGP) advanced 8.4% to 110.3p after the company rebuffed an offer from US private equity firm Apollo Management. The company did not reveal any financial details about the approach but said it 'fundamentally' undervalued the company.

Shares in broadcaster ITV (ITV) were down 1.3% at 143.04p as they traded ex-dividend.

Bookseller and stationer WH Smith (SMWH) saw group profit fall 1% year-on-year in the six months to 28 February 2018 thanks to a lack of new publishing trends over Christmas. Shares in the company fell 0.25% to £19.74.

Recruiter Hays (HAS) reported Thursday net fees increased 9% on a headline basis and 10% on a like-for-like basis in the third quarter against the prior year, as strong performance in its international business offsetting subdued UK performance. Its shares dipped 2.8% to 181.05p.

Pub operator Greene King (GNK) traded 13.7% higher at 528.4p despite sales being hit by the recent cold weather. Easter trading was strong with sales up 2.8% like-for-like on the same Bank Holiday last year.

Betting software firm Playtech (PTEC) was up 8% to 822p after it announced the acquisition of 71% of Italian gaming firm Snaitech for €846.0 million, funded by cash and new debt.


Homewares retailer Dunelm (DNLM) was up 9.5% to 573.5p after revenue for its third quarter to March rose 5.1% year-on-year to £268.2 million.

Carpet seller Carpetright (CPR) said Thursday it expected to report a small underlying pre-tax loss for the year ending 28 April 2018 and confirmed it finalised the terms of a company voluntary arrangement. The shares fell 9.5% to 38p in response.

Specialist retailer Mothercare (MTC) gained 8.8% to 18.5p as the market was relieved a like-for-like sales fall of 2.8% was not even worse.

Story provided by