- The FTSE 100 remained on course to end a difficult month on a more positive note, up 1.47% to 7,139.21 by midday on Wednesday.

Despite some mixed economic data from Asia the index appears buoyed by a strong showing on Wall Street overnight. Futures are calling for this to be followed up by further, more modest gains when trading resumes in the US this afternoon.


Standard Chartered gained 4% to 554p after the bank posted a 35% increase in third-quarter profit, driven by rising income and falling charges for sour loans.

William Hill added 4.2% to 216.8p as investors applauded its decision to bet SEK 2,819m (£241.8m) acquiring Sweden-based online gambling group Mr Green.

Pensions provider Just Group ticked up 1% to 90.4p after its revenue soared in the third quarter.

Packaging group Smurfit Kappa firmed 2.35% to £26.12 after it posted a 28% rise in year-to-date earnings and said it would acquire packaging assets in Serbia for €133m.

Fashion retailer Next fell 2.6% to £51.66, despite it posting 2% growth in third-quarter 'full-price' sales and sticking to its annual earnings guidance. Sales growth was driven by online revenue, which offset an 8% slump on the high street, although online sales growth did slow from the rate seen in the first half.

Computer services provider Computacenter slid 14.2% to £10.78 after it said third-quarter revenue declined owing to weakness in the UK.

Retail property developer Intu Properties shed 1.1% to 196.4p after a firm offer deadline applying to the company's suitors was pushed back by two weeks.

Randgold Resources said it and Barrick Gold had agreed to increase the amount of dividends that investors would get from their proposed merger. Its shares were up 1.04% to £62.08.


Property developer Watkin Jones gained 2.8% to 205p on announcing that it expected to report annual revenue and underlying earnings slightly ahead of its previous expectations.

Immunodiagnostics group Oncimmune Holdings tumbled 20.5% to 96.15p after it posted a deeper annual loss and cut its revenue expectations for the current year due to the collapse of talks with a potential partner.

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