- Downgrades to growth expectations for the Eurozone economy outweighed news of fresh financial stimulus from the European Central Bank and put global stock markets on the back foot.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.5% to 7,157.55, Germany's DAX was 0.7% lower and the US S&P 500 was down 0.8% by 4.30pm UK time.


Bakery chain Greggs was flat at £18.10 as it said it expects to declare a special dividend in July after reporting annual profits in line with guidance as performance improved in the second half following a weather-related lull in the first half.

Aviva slipped 3.7% to 417.2p as it reported a rise in profits led by growth in its life business, though weakness in its fund management businesses capped gains.

Admiral fell 4.5% after it said profit rose by nearly a fifth supported even as its UK motor business slowed in the second half in the face of rising claims costs.

Asset management company Schroders lost 5.3% to £26.13 as it reported a slump in 2018 pre-tax profit on Thursday amid a 6% drop in its assets under management, but said it remained confident in its future growth.

Private hospital operator NMC Health revealed higher than expected finance costs of $121.3m in the year to 31 December, prompting a miss in earnings per share forecasts. The shares slumped 10.3% to £26.90

Defence and aerospace group Cobham dropped 1.75% to 117.7p as it said it planned to reinstate a progressive dividend despite reporting a fall in profits owing to a strong pound and divestments.

Industrial turnaround specialist Melrose Industries climbed 2.3% to 184.1p as it saw its full-year adjusted pre-tax profit almost triple thanks to its acquisition of British engineering group GKN last year.

North Sea producer Premier Oil jumped 6.7% to 78.9p as it returned to profit in 2018, with a net profit of $133.4m compared to a net loss of $235.8m a year earlier as it achieved higher production and prices for its oil.

Informa added 2.6% to 729.8p after it reported annual profits grew helped by an increase in revenues amid a boost from acquisitions.

Inmarsat rose 7% despite reporting annual profits down by more than a fifth as a rise in satellite revenues was offset by a jump in costs.


Asset management software firm Alfa Financial gained 20.6% to 148.6p as it showed signs of recovery in the second half of 2018, with revenue increasing by 16% on the first half.

Estate agent Countrywide slumped 12% to 9.24p as it warned on 2019 performance in a tough property market.

Shares in fast fashion womenswear outfit Quiz collapsed by 50% to 16p as it issued yet another profit warning and said it was undertaking a review of the business.

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