- Some renewed strength in sterling and reports of a US criminal probe into China's Huawei, potentially inflaming trade tensions between the two countries, saw the FTSE 100 trade 0.6% lower at 6,818.53 by midday. US futures also suggest a pullback on Wall Street later.

Broadcaster ITV was down 5.9% to 129.2p after investment bank Merrill Lynch moved from 'buy' to 'underperform' on the shares.

EasyJet was also hit by a downgrade as Barclays lowered its recommendation from 'equal weight' to 'underweight'. It fell 3.5% to £11.52.


Associated British Foods said revenue grew modestly as clothing retailer Primark's UK sales exceeded expectations over the Christmas period, while its sugar division continued to grapple with falling sugar prices. The shares advanced 5.7% to £23.02.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread reports a 0.6% decline in like-for-like sales in the third quarter as it launches a £500m share buyback in the wake of its £3.9bn sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola.

The company also expects a flat performance in the February 2020 financial year amid sustained inflation and Brexit-related uncertainty in the UK.

It shares recovered some earlier, heavier losses to trade down 1.6% at £46.98.

Software firm Sage reported a 7.6% increase in organic revenue to £465m for the first three months of its financial year. The company also highlighted a 10.5% increase in recurring revenue to £387m, underpinned by software subscription growth of 2.7% to £237m. Investors reacted positively, marking the shares 5.9% higher to 627.8p

GVC said it expected underlying earnings to top market expectations following strong growth in its online gaming segment. The shares advanced 1.8% to 685p

Information services company Experian said Thursday its full-year guidance remained unchanged as organic growth grew 9% in the third quarter, led by double digit percentage growth in North America. Its share price ticked up 1.8% to £19.09. SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Video game retailer Game Digital advanced 11.6% to 26p as it abandoned a plan to ditch its Main Market listing and trade on AIM and reported like-for-like sales up 2% over the festive period.

Event seating provider Arena Events fell by more than a third after it revealed operating issues in its UK division in 2018 would hit profit. The company raised £20m at 60p in September 2018 to fund acquisitions in California and Dubai. It is currently trading at 37p. Story provided by