- Having opened noticeably lower in common with other European markets the FTSE 100 had recovered by midday to trade just 0.14% lower at 6,897.07.

The fact index heavyweight BHP Group traded ex-dividend and fell 5.6% to £16.12 was among the factors holding the index back.

Amid a slew of updates from retailers, troubled department store Debenhams slumped 9.7% to 5.1p, as sales fell by more than 3% over the Christmas period, though it remained on track to deliver profits in line with market expectations despite grappling with a gloomy high-street backdrop.


Halfords Group plummeted 22.4% to 216.2p after it cut its guidance on profits blaming a 'challenging' third quarter, driven by 'exceptionally' mild weather and ongoing weak consumer confidence.

Retailer Card Factory fell 12.2% to 170.9p as it maintained its guidance for full-year earnings but warned it was set for another difficult year as like-for-like sales declined following lower high-street footfall over Christmas.

Tesco traded 0.9% higher to 213.6p after it reported strong trading over the Christmas period. It said in a trading statement it saw a 2.6% rise in like-for-like sales in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

UK oil company Premier Oil climbed 4.1% to 79.2p said in a trading update on Thursday that it had reduced its debt to US$2.3bn at the end of 2018, below its previous forecast of US$2.4bn.

Marks & Spencer ticked up 0.14% to 278.1p despite reporting on Thursday a 2.2% drop in total like-for-like UK sales in the 13 weeks to 29 December. However, it left its full-year guidance unchanged.

UK pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers rose 6.3% to 285.4p as it reported a 9.8% increase in like-for-like sales over the three-week Christmas period, but warned about the potential impact of the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit.

DFS Furniture gained 3.4% to 212p as it kept its outlook on profit unchanged despite reporting a jump in sales as it grappled with a challenging consumer environment. The company also reported that CFO Nicola Bancroft was set to retire.


Leisure and entertainment firm Brighton Pier, the owner of operator of the South Coast city's iconic pier, fell 43.7% to 35.5p as it warned on profits, blaming in part train problems between London and Brighton.

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