- By midday the FTSE 100 was down just 0.27% at 6,747,85 having earlier traded as much as 1% lower after US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell struck a decidedly hawkish tone while delivering his latest rate hike.

US futures are still forecasting declines on Wall Street although not on the same scale which was implied earlier in the day.

Official UK retail sales jumped more than expected in November, up 1.4% on October's reading and against consensus forecasts for a 0.3% gain.


Construction and support services group Kier dropped 4.4% to 368p as it said Thursday that less than 40% of newly offered shares were snapped up by shareholders following the recent rights issue.

AstraZeneca gained 1.3% to £60.47 after it and its partner Merck said Thursday the US Food and Drug Administration had approved their ovarian cancer treatment after it met its primary goal of reducing the risk of disease progression or death compared to a placebo.

AstraZeneca also said on Thursday that two clinical trials for its chronic kidney disease treatment had both met their primary efficacy objectives.

International transport company Stagecoach Group advanced 1.9% higher to 140.4p after it said on Thursday it had entered into an agreement to sell its North America division as it refocuses on its UK operations.

Faroe Petroleum fell 0.2% to 151.8p after it again called on shareholders to reject Norwegian oil and gas firm DNO's 152p a share takeover offer, citing the terms 'fundamentally' undervalued the company.

Industrial thread manufacturer Coats Group added 0.3% to 81p after it said it acquired ThreadSol for up to $12m.

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