- UK stocks are slipping on Thursday as continued sterling strength weighed on dollar-denominated firms after Wednesday comments by Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, hinted at a Brexit deal.

At 0910, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 53.79 points, or 0.71%, at 7.509.42.

WH Smith climbed 0.78% after saying it expected its 2018 results for the 12 months ending 31 August - due in October - to be in line with expectations.

Vodafone Group fell 1.83% as Australia-listed TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchinson Australia agreed to merge to create a new fully integrated telecoms company worth $11bn.

Recruitment group Hays slid 4.34% despite revealing double-digit annual profit growth led by strong performance in its rest of world business.

IP Group added 2.33% after saying that its portfolio company Genomics had announced that Vertex Pharmaceuticals had led an oversubscribed £25.0m Series B financing round and signed a three-year collaboration agreement.

Hunting Group soared 10.48% after announcing it had reinstated dividend payments after swinging to a first-half operating profit as rising oil prices supported strong US growth. However, the company did express concern over US tariffs on steel.

AstraZeneca was little changed at 0.17% lower after announcing that the European Commission had approved a new formulation of the company's type-2 diabetes treatment.

Fresh goods producer Total Produce climbed 1.91% following its announcement that it would pay interim dividends of 0.9129 cent per share, a year-on-year increase of 2.5%, after the company saw continued growth in the six months to 30 June.

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