- Losses for the FTSE 100 mounted up by midday with the index down 1.3% to 7,258.77. The drivers were a recovery in sterling as a (brief) extension to the Brexit deadline beyond 29 March emerged from last night's EU summit and the publication of weak European economic data.

Shares in department store Debenhams fell by a third to 1.95p, having earlier endured heavier losses, as it announced a debt restructuring plan which could effectively wipe out shareholders.


Industrial technology company Smiths Group gave up earlier gains to trade flat as it booked a 13% fall in first-half profit and revealed plans to spin off its under-performing medical business into a separately-listed company.

Royal Mail shed 1.9% to 244.4p after announcing that it had appointed its current deputy chairman Keith Williams to the chairman's role after considering internal and external candidates.

EasyJet fell 1% to £11.64 despite stating that it may have to force non-EU investors to sell their shares in the company in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to ensure EU nationals had a minimum 50% stake.

Currently, EU nationals owned 49.92% of EasyJet, though EasyJet said it would target a 50.5% holding to maintain some headroom.

Component system manufacturer Senior dipped 0.4% on revealing that its aerospace division had been selected by Saab to supply components for the Boeing T-X advanced pilot training system.

Fund administration services provider Sanne gained 1.1% to 509.5p after it posted a 5.8% rise in annual profit, driven by strong sales growth in the US and Europe.

Oxford Instruments won a global tender to supply its cryogenic equipment to the Institute of Physics-Chinese Academy of Sciences. Its shares ticked up 0.4% to £10.24.


Construction company Henry Boot gained 0.4%, even as it posted a small fall in profit and warned 2019 would be challenging due to Brexit.

Packaging group Robinson jumped 9.1% to 72p despite it only posting a modest annual profit, as it forecast higher margins in 2019.

Solo Oil dropped 3.3% to 1.33p after it announced it was targeting acquisitions in Europe and North Africa to meet a new production target of at least 5,000 barrels of oil per day within the next three years.

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