- UK stocks opened higher on Friday after banking giant HSBC posted a better-than-expected profit boost.

Investors were also bracing for the release of key US employment figures due later in the day.

At 0854, the FTSE 100 was up 23.96 points, or 0.3%, at 7.375.27.

HSBC gained 2.4% after a strong performance at its Asian division and tighter cost control helped it post a 31% rise in annual pre-tax profit.

InterContinental Hotels dropped 3.4% after it posted only a slight uptick in first-quarter revenue-per-room growth, amid weakness in the Middle East and South Korea.

Shopping centre operator Intu Properties sank 6.4% as it warned on profits, blaming a higher-than-expected level of insolvencies and a slowdown in new lettings amid Brexit uncertainty.

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa ticked 0.4% higher as its earnings grew 25% in the first quarter, underpinned by both higher demand and pricing.

AstraZeneca rose 0.6% after its oral treatment for type-2 diabetes received US regulator approval.

Financial services group Numis shed 3.9% on posting a 64% slump in first-half profit, pinned on market volatility.

S4 Capital firmed 3.6% on the back of a 37% rise in first-quarter profit, as the advertising company led by former WPP boss Martin Sorrell continued to add clients.

Subprime lender Provident Financial, which is trying to ward off a hostile takeover bid from Non-Standard Financial, said it had grown its customer numbers in the first quarter. Its shares rose 1.7%.

Specialist contractor Ultra Electronics also rose 1.7% as it continued to see 'positive developments' in its order book so far this year, and continued to trade in line with its expectations.

Australian online retailer MySale added 2.8% after it agreed to sell UK-focused website to Brandalley UK for £1.5m.

Mining junior Rambler Metals and Mining jumped 28% on announcing that it produced 6% more gold and copper in 2018, owing to record output at its Ming mine in Canada.

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