StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks cling on to the modest gains earned through the morning as investors continued to bargain hunt in the face of several share price losers and a swathe of big hitters going ex-dividend.

At midday the FTSE 100 index is trading about 12 points higher at 7,210.62.

HARGREAVES TOPS FTSE LEADER BOARD

Share trading platform Hargreaves Lansdown gives the market the biggest reason to cheer, its shares rallying nearly 9% to £19.935, topping the FTSE 100 leader board. That jump comes after the company reported a larger than anticipated rise in annual profits as assets grew 8% amid strong second-half performance.

Aero-engineer Rolls-Royce is also firm, bouncing back from a hefty sell-off on Wednesday to jump close on 5% to 762.8p.

Going the other way is Coca-Cola HBC, a bottler of The Coca-Cola company. It slumps almost 5% to £27.16 after it reported a fall in profits, blaming unseasonably wet and cold weather conditions in the second quarter.

That adds to the weight from a host of heavy-hitting blue-chips in decline as they go ex-dividend on Thursday. That list includes AstraZeneca, Barclays, BT, Diageo, Lloyds Banking, Rio Tinto and Unilever.

Insurance firm Aviva grew 0.6% to 384.4p after it reported a slight increase in profits as weakness in its life and fund management division kept a lid on growth. The insurer confirmed that it may look to offload its Asian insurance business.

Property company Derwent edged 0.3% higher to £2898 as it reported an uptick in profits on the back of higher net rental income and an increase in the value of its property portfolio in the first half of the year.

Housebuilder Bellway lost around 3% to £27.95 after it said annual pre-tax profits were expected to be in line with market expectations thanks to a pickup in housing demand during the spring selling season, though margins continued to moderate toward a more normalised level.

Lending group Funding Circle jumped 5% to 104.2p even as it reported wider half-yearly losses as economic uncertainty kept a lid on loan growth.

Global manufacturer of automotive fluid storage and delivery systems TI Fluid Systems slumped 11% to 175.6p as it reported a 3.3% drop in first-half revenue and a 4.1% fall in earnings amid a 'challenging' global automotive market.

Insurer Hastings slumps 7% to 177.6p after it reported a slump in profits as an uptick in premiums was offset by an increase in the number of claims in the first half of the year.

Estate agent Savills fell 1.8% to 930p after it posted a 9% drop in pre-tax underlying profit as political and economic uncertainty, especially in the UK and Hong Kong, weighed on investor sentiment and reduced real estate activity volumes.

Evraz added 1.5% to 609.2p even as it reported a fall in half-yearly earnings as lower vanadium, coal and steel product prices weighed on performance.

Cineworld nudged 0.2% lower to 245.6p after it reported a fall in profits on lower revenues in the first half of the year, blaming the timing of major film releases in the year.

ELSEWHERE ON THE MARKET

Equipment and solutions provider to the broadcast, photographic and entertainment markets the Vitec stayed flat at £11.15 as it reported a 2.2% drop in half-year revenue amid photographic headwinds and the impact of US/China tariffs.

Berlin-specialised UK investment company Phoenix Spree Deutschland climbed 4% to 299p after it reported a 3.7% increase in the value of its portfolio in the six months ending 30 June 2019, but cautioned about the potential future impact of Berlin State rent controls.

Real estate investment trust Tritax Big Box REIT lost 1.7% to 144.3p after it posted a 5.7% increase in first-half operating profit as it upped its interim dividend by 2.2%.

Real estate asset investor Tritax EuroBox stayed flat at 93.2p after it said it would pay an interim dividend of 1 cent per ordinary share for the half-year period from 1 April to 30 June 2019.

Real Estate Credit Investments grew 0.30% to 168p after it said it would pay a first interim dividend of 3p per ordinary share (totalling £5,976,109) for the year ending 31 March 2020.

ContourGlobal stayed flat at 164p despite downgrading its outlook on earnings for the full-year, blaming the later-than-expected close of the CHP acquisition.

ClearStar jumped 14% to 61.5p after it said it had achieved a key milestone in its medical information services business with monthly sales exceeding $1m for the first time as the company accelerated growth.

At 12:17pm:

[LON:FCH] Funding Circle Holdings Plc Ord 0.1p Wi share price was +7.1p at 106.1p

[LON:HL.] Hargreaves Lansdown PLC share price was +162p at 1995p

[LON:HSTG] Hastings Group Holdings Plc share price was -12.4p at 178.6p

[LON:RR.] RollsRoyce Group PLC share price was +30.8p at 760.8p



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