StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 struggled to maintain positive momentum as the impact of several stocks going ex-dividend hit the index.

These included telecoms company Vodafone (VOD) and UK supermarket Sainsburys (SBRY).

Around midday, the blue-⁠chip index advanced 0.1% to 7,720.

Brent crude oil rose 1.2% to $76.24 per barrel.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

Wall Street was a sea of green overnight thanks to a rally in the banking sector, with the Dow Jones registering the biggest gain of 1.4% at 25,146.

Asian equities chased US equities higher as Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.9% to 22,823 on Thursday morning.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Ascential (ASCL) warned its Cannes Lions division is facing a more challenging trading environment due to a forecast lower spending by advertising agencies, causing the shares to fall 5% to 413.6p.

Quality assurance provider Intertek (ITRK) acquired network security and assurance services provider NTA Monitor to bolster its presence in the UK security assurance and certification space. The shares were flat at £56.94.

Property developer Kier (KIE) established a joint venture with Homes England and Cross Keys Homes to develop nearly 5,400 homes across the country over the next ten years. Despite the good news, the stock fell 6% to £10.16.

Auto Trader (AUTO) got a boost from online finance deals and rising used car prices, helping push pre-tax profit 10% higher in the year to the end of March. Shares in the company accelerated 9.5% to 387.7p.

British outsourcer Mitie (MTO) was up 3.8% at 203.2p after revealing adjusted operating profit fell 6% to £77.1m in the year to 31 March 2018, which was in line with guidance following investment in customer service and internal capabilities.

Online trading services specialist Plus500 (PLUS) said it continued to trade strongly and materially increased expectations for its financial performance in the year to 31 December 2018. The stock jumped 6.4% to £17.15.

CMC Markets (CMCX) enjoyed a 24% jump in pre-tax profit after trading volumes increased and sales per client rose, pushing the stock 3.7% higher to 194p.

Funerals provider Dignity (DTY) said trading remained strong following its first quarter results but the full year outlook remains unchanged. Dignity reported it is too early to conclude that trading experienced to date is indicative of the likely funeral price and volume mix going forwards. Its shares dipped 0.5% to £10.81.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Multimedia content producer Zinc Media (ZIN) rallied 43.7% to 0.7p on an exclusive representation deal with ICM Partners and two new commissions by its subsidiaries Reef Television and Tern Television.

OnTheMarket (OTMP) reported adjusted operating profit rose to £3.9m, up from £2.3m in the year to 31 January 2018, but operating losses increased to £10.8m, from £1.2m, including £14.7m of exceptional items. The shares fell 2.1% to 158.5p.

Pawnbroker Ramsdens (RFX) enjoyed a lift in customer numbers, helping to deliver continued growth across all business segments in the year ended 31 March 2018. The stock rose 3.5% to 192p.

Wilmcote Holdings (WCH) confirmed it is in discussions with Platform Specialty Products regarding a potential acquisition of its Agricultural Solutions segment, Arysta LifeScience.


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