- The FTSE 100 slipped into negative territory as weakness in insurers weighed on performance.

Direct Line (DLG) shed 0.9% to 362.6p and RSA Insurance (RSA) fell 0.7% to 644.8p.

The FTSE 100 traded 6.6 points lower at 7,536 around midday.

The purchasing managers index data for the UK services sector increased from 51.7 in March to 52.8 in April. A reading over 50 means the sector is growing while one under 50 suggests contraction.

Brent crude oil slipped 0.2% to $73.19 per barrel.


US equities underperformed after the US Federal Reserve held interest rates at its latest meeting on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 was down 0.7% at 2,635 overnight.


A weaker than anticipated first quarter at Smith & Nephew (SN.) is expected to hit sales growth, which is now forecast to hit 2% to 3%, down from between 3% to 4%. Shares in the woundcare company lost 7.2% to £13.

Insurer Lancashire (LRE) brought in more premiums, supporting a 48% jump in first quarter pre-tax profit to $42.4m. Investors were pleased with the results as the stock gained 4.1% to 623p.

Miner Glencore (GLEN) advanced 1% to 361.5p after meeting first quarter production targets and revealing 2018 earnings are expected to hit the top half of its $2.2bn to $3.2bn guidance.

Gold miner Centamin (CEY) doubled first quarter profits thanks to higher gold production, lower sales costs and better gold prices, but this failed to move the shares at 155.6p.

James Fisher & Sons (FSJ) enjoyed a good start to the year with several new contracts in its marine support division. Shares in the marine engineering services provider swam 2.3% higher to £17.46.

Engineering giant Rolls-Royce (RR.) warned of rising costs on back of more engine inspections, overshadowing in-line trading. The stock reversed 0.7% to 830.8p.

In the same sector, IMI (IMI) was cautious over continuing uncertainty in some of its major divisions and a headwind from a recent rise in sterling. Its shares retreated 5% to £10.73.

Hungarian airline Wizz Air (WIZZ) flew 1.5% higher to £32.74 after benefitting from strong passenger growth of 19% in April. The airline also commenced its first UK flight after getting an operating license.

Ophir Energy (OPHR) announced a $200m cash purchase of a package of oil producing assets, helping the shares surge 6% to 63p.


Shares in oil exploration firm Bahamas Petroleum (BPC) catapulted 133% to 2.4p on a confidentiality and exclusivity deal with a major international company.

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