- Continuing Brexit uncertainty led to swings in the pound with the FTSE 100 up 0.6% to 7,147.04 by midday.

The resources sector was helped by reports of more Chinese stimulus overnight, with Asian stocks enjoying strong gains. Health care stocks were also strong with NMC Health topping the FTSE leaderboard.


Accounting adjustments at construction outsourcing firm Kier saw net debt restated at £180.5m, up from £130m. Average month-end net debt for the six months to 31 December was also up from £370m to £430m.

The business booked a £25m charge linked to delays on its redevelopment of Broadmoor hospital and its shares are down to 12.3% to 436p.

Financial services group Charter Court jumped 9.2% on confirming that it was in 'advanced talks' to be acquired by OneSavings Bank. The latter's shares advanced 9.6%.

Sub-prime lender Provident Financial gained 1.8% after hostile bidder Non-Standard Financial issued its offer document, which gave shareholders until 5 May to assess the bid.

Both companies continued their war of words against one another, with Non-Standard claiming its bid presented a 'compelling and achievable vision for a better future'. Provident claimed it significantly undervalued the company and came with operational and execution risks.

Shipping services provider Clarkson fell 8.9% to £23.60 as its annual profits slipped and it warned of more choppy seas ahead, partly caused by Brexit uncertainty.


Ailing department store chain Debenhams added 1.5% on confirming that it was in 'advanced' negotiations with current lenders to secure additional credit facilities of around £150m.

Inkjet printing technology company Xaar shed 6.8% to 125.4p as it warned that its annual profits would take a £7m hit, due to delays selling new products in China.

Builder services group Northern Bear tumbled 13% as it forecast a flat annual earnings performance.

Reabold Resources jumped 8.9% to 0.63p on news that a joint venture in the US had discovered oil in California.

Ascent Resources dropped 11.5% after it was ordered by authorities to produce an environmental impact assessment for a key project in Slovenia. The company said it would appeal the decision.

RNA-based therapy developer Silence Therapeutics fell 3.4% to 51p as it posted a deeper annual loss, owing to higher R&D spending and legal fees.

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