- The FTSE 100's momentum was slightly blunted by resilient data on the UK services sector, which boosted the pound, but the index was still up 0.2% to 7,150.09 by midday.

Comparison site GoCompare gained 6.8% to 68.9p after chairman and insurance industry guru Peter Wood lifted his stake in the business from 25.6% to 29.9% and described the shares as too cheap.


General insurer Direct Line ticked up 0.3% to 357.2p after it cut its annual dividend and declared a more modest special payout, as bad weather including the Beast from the East dented its annual profits and the company prepared for Brexit.

Beleaguered retailer Debenhams shed 5.3% as it again warned on profits, blaming economic uncertainties and higher financing costs.

Equipment rental company Ashtead also headed south, weakening 1.8% to £20.28, even as it posted an 18% rise in underlying profits for its fiscal third quarter.

Brickmaker Ibstock firmed 3.2% to 259.4p as its annual profits rose by about a fifth.

Aviation services company BBA Aviation descended 6% after it managed to only eke out a modest gain in profits, despite boosting revenue by a fifth.

NMC Health gained 1.6% to £29.02 on announcing that it had agreed to form a healthcare joint venture with a large Saudi pension fund.


Power control component supplier XP Power gained 4% to £20.44 as it posted a 17% rise in annual profit, but warned that its revenue growth in 2019 would be weighted to the second half of the year.

Personal care and beauty products supplier Swallowfield dropped 14.6% to 166.5p after it posted a 74% fall in annual profit owing to higher raw material costs.

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