- UK stocks are climbing on Thursday morning, lifted by the increase in Royal Dutch Shell's share price as it reported strong full-year results.

At 08:58, the benchmark FTSE 100 was 0.70%, or 48.60 points, higher at 6,990.23.

Diageo climbed 4% after it said Thursday first-half operating profit saw double-digit percentage growth as higher sales of its premium brands offset the impact of rising costs and a stronger pound. The company also launched a £660m share buyback programme.

Royal Dutch Shell added 3.47% as it posted a 36% increase in full-year profits for 2018 to $21.4bn on Thursday as it launched the next tranche of its share buyback programme.

But Unilever slipped 2.3% after it reported a 2.9% increase in underlying sales for 2018 and the fourth quarter, but said it expected market conditions to remain "challenging" in 2019.

BT Group also fell, losing 4.36% on Thursday even as it maintained its guidance after reporting a 20% rise in pre-tax profits. However, revenues were held back by regulated price reductions in Openreach and declines in its enterprise businesses.

Britvic edged 0.057% lower after it said Thursday first-quarter trading was in line with its expectations as revenue grew 4.5%.

Dairy Crest added 1.26% on Thursday as it maintained its outlook for the full year as sales grew 6% in the third quarter on "strong" performance from its key brands and product launches.

British engineering company Renishaw rose 3.53% after it posted a fall in first-half profit attributable to shareholders to £52.0m, from £56.9m a year earlier, but said it remained confident in its future prospects.

Gambling company Rank climbed 0.13% despite reporting a 27.6% fall in its adjusted pre-tax profit to £29.1m for the first half of its financial year amid "tough trading".

3i Group increased 0.94% as it said Thursday total returned increased 13.9% for nine months through December last year driven by "good" portfolio growth.

British defence technology company Qinetiq moved 3.88% higher after it said on Thursday it had continued to perform well in the third quarter of its financial year and was "maintaining expectations" for the company's full-year performance.

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