StockMarketWire.com - Weaker metal prices weighed on the mining sector, leaving the FTSE 100 struggling for direction at 7,499 around midday.

Copper cheapened 1.9% to $2.60 per pound and gold fell 0.5% to $1,193 per ounce.

Brent crude oil surged 1.5% to $79.31 per barrel.

Anglo American shed 1.8% to £15.41 followed by Fresnillo, down 1.7% at 874.8p.

UK construction output growth eased to a three-month low in August according to Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index, which produced a reading of 52.9 in August, down from 55.8 in July. A figure over 50 implies growth while one under 50 suggests contraction.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Cycling retailer Halfords delivered a robust performance despite a challenging retail environment as the heatwave helped to offset adverse weather earlier this year. Shares in Halfords rose 6.4% to 349.8p.

Advertising titan WPP revealed pressure on profitability in its first half and downgraded longer term margin guidance, triggering a 6.6% drop to £11.92.

Packaging company DS Smith announced volume growth in the first quarter offset margin pressure from higher raw material costs. The stock retreated 0.1% to 492p.

Financing software provider Alfa Financial Software slumped 7.3% to 146.8p on a challenging start to the year and ahead of its potential ejection from the FTSE 250.

British housebuilder Redrow was down 1.6% at 547.5p despite demand for new homes remaining resilient as the UK's exit from the EU approaches, with pre-tax profit rising 21% to £380m in the year to 30 June.

Defence contractor Chemring adjusted full year guidance after an explosion at a UK factory in August. Investors took the news in their stride as the stock strengthened 1.9% to 201p.

Budget airline Ryanair reported a 9% increase in passengers in August compared to a year ago, but the share price failed to reflect the good news, dipping 1.6% to €13.89.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Convenience retailer McColl's Retail continued to be impacted by the collapse of wholesale Palmer & Harvey last year following lower like-for-like sales. Shares in McColl's advanced 0.9% to 144.5p.

Metals exploration and development firm Greatland Gold found high grade gold from a licence in Western Australia, prompting investors to mark the shares 30.2% higher to 1.3p.

A profit warning from advanced composite material kits supplier Velocity Composites wiped off nearly a quarter of its market value.

There was bad news from Seeing Machines as production delays are expected to have an ongoing adverse effect on growth in 2019 with sales expected to be 'materially below' market expectations. Shares in the artificial intelligence technology specialist toppled 35.3% to 6.6p.


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