StockMarketWire.com - Stronger miners pushed the FTSE 100 firmly into positive territory, leaving the blue-chip index 0.2% higher at 7,344 around midday.

Fresnillo gained 2.3% to 844.8p and Antofagasta rose 1.1% to 846.2p.

Rio Tinto strengthened 2.1% to £38.01 after announcing it will return approximately $3.2bn of post-tax coal asset disposal proceeds to its shareholders through a share buyback programme.

Brent crude oil was stable at $79.47 per barrel.

Sports car maker Aston Martin confirmed a price range of £17.50 and £22.50 for its planned share sale, valuing the company at approximately £5bn.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Drinks maker Diageo started the year well but warned that currency volatility is expected to hit sales by £175m and operating profits by £45m. The stock advanced 0.9% to £26.37.

Share trading platform IG slumped 7.2% to 802p on lower fiscal first-quarter sales as the volume of trading by retail clients was 'significantly' lower across the UK and EU as regulatory measures bite.

Infrastructure services group Kier revealed higher sales and pre-tax profit in the year to 30 June, prompting investors to mark the shares 1.9% higher to £10.59.

Mobile satellite communications services provider Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics struck a joint agreement for ten years to offer broadband in-flight connectivity paired with solutions and services to passengers on commercial flights. Shares in Inmarsat rose 0.8% to 500.8p.

London Southend Airport owner Stobart revealed passenger numbers at the airport rose 37% in its pre-close trading statement, but this failed to move the stock at 243p.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Pharmaceutical company N4 Pharma crashed 36.6% to 4.2p after undertaking a strategic review on sildenafil and deciding to discontinue the development of its assets and close the generic division.

Safestyle UK said sales fell 26.6% to £60.5m in the six months to 30 June 2018 following an extremely challenging first half. After an initial fall, the shares rallied 14.7% to 46.3p.

French Connection fell 12.2% to 44p on decline in first-half sales as growth in wholesale performance was offset by a reduced store portfolio and a 'tough' retail backdrop in the UK.

Petro Matad plummeted 20.5% to 6.3p after failing to find any oil accumulations in its Snow Leopard 1 well.


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