StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks are edging higher on Thursday morning as investors await the outcome of the European Central Bank's latest interest rate decision later in the session.

At 08:58, the benchmark FTSE 100 was up 0.26%, or 19.39 points, at 7,520.85.

Aveva was last seen up 1.31% at 4,010p after it said revenue growth in the first quarter was low double-digit amid 'strong' rental subscription growth and a boost from favourable foreign currency movements.

British-Dutch consumer goods major Unilever slipped 1.26% to 4,935p after it reported a 3.3% increase in first-half underlying sales, led by strong growth in its emerging markets, and as turnover slipped from prior-year levels.

AstraZeneca jumped 5.66% to 6,719p after it upgraded its product sales guidance as an acceleration in second-quarter sales bolstered its first-half performance.

Diageo fell 1.92% to 3,289p after it revealed plans to return up to £4.5bn to shareholders over the two years beginning in 2020 after reporting a rise in annual profits.

Budget airline Wizz Air climbed 4.58% to 3,770p after it reported a 42% rise in first-quarter profit despite higher fuel prices and raised its full-year capacity outlook on the back of the strong quarter and encouraging summer trading.

Compass Group grew 3.23% to 2,028p last after it said it expected organic growth at the top of its guidance range as better-than-anticipated margin improvement in its Rest of World and strong growth in tis North American segment were offsetting a more difficult volume environment in Europe.

Miner Anglo American climbed 1.21% to 2,213.50p after it said it would buy back up to $1bn of stock and after reporting a 19% rise in first-half earnings.

Polymer solutions company Victrex slumped 4.36% to 1,976p after it reported a 14% drop in third-quarter revenue as growth in its aerospace, energy and medical sectors was offset by declines in its automotive and electronics businesses.

Global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools Relx fell 5.31% to 1,836p even as it reported underlying growth in revenue, operating profit and earnings in the first half of 2019 and as it reaffirmed its full-year outlook.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals added 1.08% to 1,823.97p after it, together with Gedeon Richter, announced the signing of an exclusive license agreement to sell the latter's antipsychotic in certain Middle East and North African markets.

British software company The Sage Group dropped 10.73% to 728.95p even as it reported a 5.9% increase in revenue in the first nine months of 2019 amid strong software subscription growth as it said it expected full-year revenue to 'slightly exceed' guidance.

UK IT infrastructure and service provider Softcat added 2.88% to 946p after said it expected full-year operating profit to exceed previous expectations amid healthy trading in its fourth quarter, typically its largest of the year.

Bus and coach company National Express added 3.34% to 438.80p after it reported a 7.8% increase in first-half revenue driven by organic revenue growth across all its divisions as it confirmed it remained 'on course' to deliver its year-end target.

UK defence company Cobham leapt 35.03% to 165.75p after it said it had reached an agreement to sell the company to US buyout group Advent International in a deal that valued it at £4bn.

FirstGroup edged 0.36% higher to 112.30p after it said overall trading performance in the first quarter had been in line and there was no change to its expectations for the current financial year.

Homebuilder Countryside Properties slipped 0.067% to 298.40p after it said it had sold slightly fewer homes and at lower prices in the third quarter of the year, but added that it remained on track to deliver full-year expectations.

AJ Bell grew 3.92% to 445p after it reported that assets under administration had increased 6% in the third quarter of its fiscal year thanks to a rise in total customer numbers.

Healthcare property investor Primary Health Properties added 0.30% to 134.80p last after it reported a 12% increase in first-half adjusted EPRA earnings per share to 2.8p as it said its March merger with MedicX had already created 'significant value'.

Insurer Lancashire Holdings climbed 3.44% to 721.50p even as it reported a slump in half-yearly profits amid a 'more cautious' underwriting environment.





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