- The FTSE 100 was down 1.2% by midday at 7,097.37 as sterling strengthened on hopes for a delay to Brexit with a no deal outcome potentially off the table.

Other major markets suffered smaller losses amid concern trade negotiations between the US and China might not be as advanced as hoped.

US futures pointed to a lower open, with sentiment also soured by a downgrade for Caterpillar shares and a Home Depot results which fell short of expectations.


Standard Chartered shed 2.4% to 604.2p, despite posting a 5.5% rise in annual profit that was driven by higher margins and lower charges for bad loans.

The bank also said it would target higher payouts to shareholders as part of a refreshed strategy that would involve slashing costs and selling off smaller assets.

House builder Persimmon gained 4.1% to £24.49 on posting a 13% rise in annual profit, as it completing more properties and sold them for a higher average price.

Builders merchant Travis Perkins jumped 14.2% to £14.47, despite swinging to an annual loss owing to a write-down in the value of its Wickes DIY chain.

With the write-down and other one-off charges stripped out, adjusted profits edged higher amid a 4.8% boost in sales.

Mining company Fresnillo dropped 8.4% to 894.2p on reporting a a sharp decline in annual profits owing to lower prices and higher costs. The company also warned of another 'challenging year.'

Chemical company Croda International fell 3.3% to £48.91, despite it offering a special dividend, as profit growth was muted by a stronger pound.

Babcock International fell 3.8% to 555p after revealing that it would incur a one-off £10m tax charge due to Brexit.

Engineering group Meggitt slipped 1.7% to 555p on posting a drop in annual profit, pinned on a fall in the market value of certain investments. Underlying earnings, however, rose as the company beat its organic sales targets.

Marine services company James Fisher and Sons gained 5.5% to £19.10 as its marine support services segment helped buoy profits.


Surveillance technology company Synectics fell 4.8% to 188p after posting a 16% fall in annual profit owing to weakness in the UK bus market. Demand from the gambling sector was a bright spot and helped soften the blow.

Online gambling marketing play XLMedia plunged 31.5% to 53.5p as a change in strategy to shift away from buying online ads for clients would result in a one-off hit in 2018 and lower revenue and earnings in 2019.

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