StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened higher on Friday as investors braced for the commencement of key trade talks between the US and China.

At 0859, the FTSE 100 was up 16.66 points, or 0.2%, at 7.184,05.

Subprime lender Provident Financial rose 3.5% after it received a £1.3bn share-based takeover bid from rival Non Standard Finance.

Challenger bank Metro Bank gained 5.1% on news that it had won £120m in funding from Banking Competition Remedies, a vehicle set up by the UK government and European Union.

Fellow lender CYBG went in the opposite direction, shedding 6%, after confirming that it missed out on the funding.

Educational publisher Pearson lost 0.6% after it booked a lower annual operating profit that nevertheless landed in the upper half of its guidance range.

Struggling UK carrier Flybe fell 37% as it completed the sale of its businesses to the Connect Air consortium involving Virgin Atlantic and Stobart for just £2.8m. Stobart gained 0.5%.

Power utility Centrica fell 1.4% after announcing that it had renewed a series of debt facilities worth a combined £4.2bn with 21 banks. The company's shares were also likely still under pressure from a disappointing earnings result on Thursday.

Theme-park group Merlin Entertainments said it had sold its Hotham and Falls Creek Australian ski resorts Vail Resorts for A$174m (£95m). Its shares slid 0.6% lower.

Advanced materials company Haydale Graphene plunged 78% as its first-half losses widened and it launched a discounted share issue to raise £3.8m.

Infrastructure product supplier Hill & Smith rose 1.4% on announcing that it had acquired vehicle-stopping equipment maker ATG Access from LDC and private shareholders for £22.5m.

Entertainment marketing communications group Reach4entertainment gained 2.8% on news that it agreed to acquire advertising agency Agency Press for up to £10m, and had launched a £3m share issue to help fund the deal.

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