StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 was up 0.6% to 7,321.96 by midday as data released overnight showed China's manufacturing sector had unexpectedly returned to growth in March. US futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street later.

Elsewhere sterling was stronger as MPs prepare for a series of indicative votes to find a way through the Brexit impasse.

LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

EasyJet dropped 8.8% to £10.19 after it warned of softer ticket yields in the second half, as Brexit uncertainty put off travelers.

Rio Tinto gained 2.6%, despite warning its annual iron ore production would be at the bottom end of its guidance range after a cyclone damaged port facilities in Australia.

Fellow miner Ferrexpo rose 4.6% after it said its full year results would be delivered by April, as it probes evidence that its charitable donations to Blooming Land had been possibly misused.

The mining sector in general was strong as the positive Chinese macro-economic data implied a boost for commodities demand.

Sports Direct was flat after announcing that it had been contacted by a number of Debenhams shareholders expressing their support for the appointment Mike Ashley as Debenhams chief executive. Debenhams shares fell 8.2%.

Serco gained 0.9% to 129.2p after it announced that it had signed a two-year £140m contract extension with authorities in Dubai to continue operating and maintaining its metro train line until September 2021.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Georgian oil producer Block Energy gained 73% to 6.75p as it announced significantly better expected results from drilling on its flagship asset in the country.

Clothing retailer Joules shed 1% to 285p on news that chief executive Colin Porter would retire before the end of the group's 2020 financial year.

Infection prevention product manufacturer Tristel added 7% to 294.2p on announcing that two of its disinfectant products had gained regulatory approval in China and South Korea.

Reabold Resources gained 4.4% after it reported a new oil discovery in California that appeared to be larger than initial expectations.


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