- Sterling plummeted to an 18-month low after Prime Minister Theresa May called off a vital vote on her Brexit deal in the face of a potential defeat.

May told MPs she wants to renegotiate on the Irish backstop to gain more support for her deal, but there is considerable market scepticism over her ability to do so.

Concerns over the direction of Brexit weighed on the FTSE 100, which failed to take advantage of the weak pound and slipped 0.8% to 6,721.

European equities and Wall Street followed the FTSE 100 into the red.

Brent crude oil fell 1.4% to $60.81 per barrel and copper cheapened 1.3% to $2.72 per pound. In corporate news, Interserve fell 53% to 11.5p, paring earlier heavier losses, as it announced a debt reduction plan which could result in 'material' dilution for shareholders.


Gulf country focused healthcare group NMC Health said it expected to grow its annual operating earnings by 38%, underpinned by both acquisitions and organic revenue growth. Its shares dipped 0.8% to £31.38.

Retirement income company Just Group surged 19% to 97.7p after it assessed that new UK rules on equity release mortgages were 'considerably less onerous' for the company than set out in a previous consultation paper.

Photo booth and laundry services company Photo-Me International dropped 14.3% to 91p as lax UK sales and the impact of restructuring costs in Japan dragged its profits around a fifth lower.

Renewable infrastructure company Greencoat Renewables gained 1.2% as it agreed to acquire the Monaincha and Garranereagh wind farms in Ireland from BlackRock for €88m.


Shares in Avacta soared 30.4% to 30.2p after signing a $180m deal with LG Chem, the proceeds of which will be used to develop its therapeutics in several disease areas.

Pharmaceutical group ValiRx jumped 9.5% to 1.3p on news that an independent analysis of data showed a positive response in a treatment trial for patients with prostate cancer.

People-screening technology provider Thruvision retreated 0.3% to 26.8p after rising revenue helped it narrow first-half losses.

Payment data protection group PCI-PAL said it had signed a re-seller agreement with a 'major UK payment service provider'. Its shares gained 0.4% to 24.6p.

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