- The FTSE 100 struggled with the double whammy of a strong pound amid positive progress on Brexit negotiations and falling oil prices, putting pressure on index heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

Oil prices went into reverse, down 4.3% at $67.11 per barrel, following a warning from US President Donald Trump that the price should be lower.

BP fell 2.7% to 513.5p and Shell slid 2% to £24.29.

The FTSE 100 was broadly unmoved at 7,053.

In the US, the tech-heavy Nasdaq led the way, rising 1.1% to 7,282 around 4:45pm UK time.


Vodafone jumped 7.8% to 155.6p, 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 1% to £63.11 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.

Healthcare firm BTG received an 10.7% shot to 660p after the company upgraded its pharmaceutical sales guidance for the second time in a little over a month.

A positive trading update from DIY group Grafton helped the stock strengthen 7.9% to 779.8p.

Residential developer Taylor Wimpey was broadly unmoved at 164.1p 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 4.5% to £18.73, 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 7.4% to 177.1p 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 10.4% to 87.9p 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 added 0.7% to 136.9p 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 1.4% 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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