- Some positive corporate news was just about helping to keep the FTSE 100 in positive territory by midday but with US futures pointing to a subdued open momentum was on the wane.

The index of leading UK shares opened up 0.5% amid strength across the board for European stocks but those gains are steadily being given back and it is now up 0.2% at 7,067.23.

The pound got a lift from positive UK earnings data but with focus on Brexit negotiations the currency remains volatile.


Vodafone Group jumped 6.2% to 156.1p, despite posting a large first-half loss, after it narrowed its full-year earnings guidance and pledged to keep its full-year dividend steady amid upgraded cashflow guidance.

AstraZeneca gained 0.8% to £63.01 following news that it agreed to sell the US rights to its respiratory tract infection treatment to Swedish Orphan Biovitrum for an initial $1.5bn in cash and shares.

Residential developer Taylor Wimpey fell 1.3% to 161p after it reported its sales rates were flat in the year to date and said it was mindful of economic and political risks hurting consumer confidence as it guided for a similar outcome in 2019.

Information services company Experian jumped 5.7% to £18.96, despite first-half profits slipping due to FX losses, as the company reassured investors that full-year revenue would be at the top end of guidance.

Engineering group Melrose Industries rose 5% to 173.2p as it announced it was trading in line with its expectations for 2018, with revenue growing in its aerospace and power metallurgy divisions but remaining flat in automotive.

Transport services company FirstGroup rallied 9.5% to 87.25p after it boosted its adjusted first-half profit by 38%, when stripping out costs associated with a restructure of its troubled Greyhound bus unit.

Retirement home developer McCarthy & Stone fell 2.1% to 133p as it booked a 37% drop in annual profit as higher costs more than offset a rise in revenue.


Mr Kipling cake seller Premier Foods ticked up 1.3% to 38.6p after it caved to activist shareholder demands to replace its chief executive and sell assets.

The company revealed that it was in discussions to sell its Ambrosia custard business, while reporting 14% growth in adjusted first-half profit.

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