- Gains in the FTSE 100 eased back after excitement over a potential slowdown in US interest rates faded amid caution on progress with trade war talks, leaving the blue-chip index 0.4% higher at 6,968.

On Wall Street, investors were sceptical about US President Donald Trump's optimism on trade war talks without more details as the Dow Jones retreated 23.7 points to 24,991 at around 5pm UK time.

Brent crude oil was up 0.7% at $62.10 per barrel.


Royal Dutch Shell added 3.6% to £23.68 as it posted a 36% increase in full-year profits for 2018 to $21.4bn on Thursday and launched the next tranche of its share buyback programme.

Diageo climbed 4.7% to £29.01 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.

But Unilever slipped 2% to £39.84 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, reversed losses to trade 0.7% higher at 232.4p 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.

Dairy Crest added 1.5% to 483.4p 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 7% to £46.70 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 6.1% to 158.8p 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'.

British defence technology company Qinetiq moved 3% higher to 303p 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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