- Strong wage data and continuing hopes a no-deal Brexit will be averted helped lift sterling and contributed to losses for the FTSE 100 which was down 0.6% to 6,931.75 by midday.

On Wall Street, where trading was set to resume after being on hold for Martin Luther King day yesterday, futures markets were pointing to material declines.


Mining titan BHP fell 1.9% to £15.81, despite upgrading its annual copper production forecast, after it also warned that unit costs were tracking above guidance amid planned maintenance and production outages.

Low-cost airline EasyJet gained 1.8% as it stuck to its annual guidance, despite widely-publicised drone activity grounding flights at Gatwick airport over Christmas.

Phone retailer Dixons Carphone gained 4.5% to 143.7p after it posted a 1% rise in like-for-like revenue over the Christmas trading period and kept its profit guidance intact.

Brokerage IG Group slid 6.5% to 599.5p as it announced a 17% fall first-half profit owing to a regulatory clampdown on derivative products.

Cairn Energy gained 2.9% to 190.5p after it forecast a rise in annual oil and gas production for 2019.

Merchant banking group Close Brothers fell 0.5% to £15.55 as it warned that market volatility had impacted trading income and investment performance in an otherwise 'solid' first half.

Sirius Minerals shed 6% to 21p after it announced that it had agreed to revise the terms of a potential $3bn round of funding for its flagship fertilizer project in Yorkshire.

Pet product and veterinary business Pets at Home gained 6.6% to 133.8p as it posted a 6.3% rise in third-quarter revenue, putting it on track to meet annual profit guidance.


Time Out added 4% to 71.8p as it completed the sale of its stake in hospitality platform Flyt to food delivery group Just Eat for £9.6m.

Media services company Zoo Digital plunged 47% to 61p as it guided for annual earnings 'significantly' below expectations after the loss of a key project crimped sales.

Advanced materials supplier Velocity Composites lost 5.7% to 20.8p after it booked a deeper annual loss, owing to shrinking margins and higher expansion and restructuring costs.

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