- FTSE finishes strongly as Johnson heads for Number 10

Sterling weakness amid fears Boris Johnson's imminent arrival as UK prime minister will increase the chance of a no-deal Brexit, helped lift the FTSE 100, which by the close on Thursday was off its highs but still up 0.6% at 7,556.86.

A fall in the pound has positive impact on the relative value of the overseas earnings which dominate the UK's index of leading shares. European markets were also on the march amid speculation the European Central Bank will announce new stimulus measures when it convenes tomorrow. In the US the S&P 500 enjoyed more modest gains, up 0.2% by 4.30pm UK time.

Supermarkets were under pressure off the back of weak industry data. Sainsbury's led the way lower with a 1.8% decline. Premier Inn owner Whitbread fell 3.3% in the wake of returning capital from the sale of Costa Coffee.


Consumer goods group PZ Cussons fell 1.5% after it booked a 38% drop in annual profit, as sales were hit by weak economic conditions in Nigeria and adverse foreign exchange movements.

The company said it was reviewing the growth potential of some of its 'non-core' brands and would ultimately focus more on its personal care and beauty categories. It would also streamline its activities in Nigeria.

Online trading house IG was flat on announcing a 31% fall in annual profit, pinned on stricter regulations and weaker market conditions.

Specialist insurer Beazley rose 4.5% after it posted a large rise in first-half profit, having successfully pushed through rises in premium rates while generating higher returns from its investments.

Premium mixer retailer Fevertree Drinks shed 9.4%, despite posting a 7% rise in first-half profit and hiking its dividend 23%, as it also revealed that its sales had been hurt by an unseasonably poor British summer.

Student accommodation developer Unite climbed 1.9%, even while booking a 12% fall in first-half profit owing to lower property valuation gains, as it boosted underlying earnings and upped its dividend 8%.

London and Johannesburg listed packaging group Mondi gained 1.7% after it announced that it expected to post a substantial rise in first-half earnings.

Specialist lender Paragon Banking added 1.5% as it steadily continued to grow the size of its mortgage and commercial lending books, while improving its net interest margin.

IT focused recruitment company FDM lost 4.1%, despite posting a 9% rise in first-half profit, after it also reported weaker client demand in the UK and US during the second quarter.


Auto retailer Motorpoint gained 1.4% on guiding for a fall in first-half profit, though the company said that it had seen some margin improvement in July.

Convenience store retailer McColl's reversed 3.1%, as it it booked a fall in first-half profit, owing to lower margins in a 'highly competitive' market.

Surveillance technology company Synectics gained 14.4% despite posting a 20% fall in first-half profit, owing to order deferrals hurting sales.

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