- The FTSE 100 was lower by lunchtime on Thursday as sterling stabilised amid hopes Theresa May's survival of a leadership challenge would help bring some calm to the Brexit process.

By midday the index of leading UK shares was down 0.4% at 6,850.57. US futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street amid cautious optimism over the prospects of the US and China reaching some agreement on trade.

Underlying earnings growth of 10.9%, ahead of consensus forecasts, helped travel agent TUI advance 4.7% to £11.92. The strong performance is underpinned by a strong contribution from its higher margin hotel and cruise businesses.

Rival Thomas Cook, which is under scrutiny over its financial position, gained 5.1% to 31p.


A lower effective tax rate saw support services firm Serco guide for earnings per share for 2018 and 2019 to come in ahead of consensus expectations by between 5% and 10%.

The company also confirmed closing net debt would be lower than previously expected at around £200m with leverage improving to 1.2 times to 1.3 times. The shares advanced 8.6% to 97.1p.

Online estate agent Purplebricks fell 11.2% to 133.2p as it reported an increased operating loss for the six months to 31 October 2018 and trimmed its full year revenue guidance.

Losses were up from £11.4m to £25.6m and the company refined its guided revenue range for the year to 30 April from £165m to £185m to £165m to £175m.

Online groceries play Ocado reported double-digit increases in revenue and average orders per week in the 13 weeks to 2 December 2018 but saw its average order size dip over the same period. Its shares advanced 1.7% to 807p

First half underlying pre-tax profit was down 26.8% at sports retailer Sports Direct after the company's acquisition of loss-making department store House of Fraser in August. The shares fell 10.4% to 247.7p.

Distribution and outsourcing company Bunzl said Thursday it expected full-year revenue growth of between 8% and 9%, though a strong sterling was expected to keep a lid on gains. The shares advanced 1.4% to £24.40 as the company also confirmed it had acquired a Danish-based foodservice distributor CM supply.

Consumer goods firm PZ Cussons said trading in Nigeria, currently weak due to the uncertain economic situation, would determine the performance of the business in its financial year to May 2018. Its shares fell 6.1% to 211p.


Bonmarche cut its profit guidance Thursday, on signs sales in the crucial festive shopping period would fall short of expectations as the gloomy backdrop on the UK high street continued. The shares fell 40.4% to 48p.

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