- UK stocks opened modestly lower on Wednesday as weak Chinese and German economic data tempered optimism over a cooling of US-Sino trade tensions.

At 0855, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 7.43 points, or 0.1%, at 7.243.47.

Sports apparel and equipment retailer Sports Direct reversed 4.0% after revealing that Grant Thornton had resigned as its auditor following 'a review of its client portfolio'.

Construction company Balfour Beatty rallied 12% to 225.36p as a cost-cutting drive helped it boost its first-half profit and hike its dividend by 31%.

Transport company FirstGroup advanced 1.2% to 116.4p on the back of news that it won a UK tender to take over the West Coast train line, replacing Virgin Trains.

Wealth manager Standard Life Aberdeen fell 0.4% to 249.4p, despite announcing that it had sold down a further 3.3% stake in Indian insurer HDFC Life for £374m, lowering its holding to about 19.7%.

AstraZeneca rose 0.5% to 7,379.96p after reporting positive clinical trial results for an ovarian cancer treatment developed with Merck, and, separately, the granting of a US breakthrough therapy designation for a leukaemia drug.

Payments company Network International, which listed in April, added 1.0% to 601p despite its first-half profit halving thanks to one-off expenses related to staff remuneration and listing charges.

The company, however, also boosted underlying earnings as customer wins helped boost sales 12%.

Property investor CLS gained 1.9% to 226.25p as it saw first-half profits rise by more than a quarter, following an increase in rental income and portfolio valuation gains.

Cybersecurity company Avast jumped 9.0% to 357.2p after upgrading its profit guidance for the year.

Water-saving technology developer Xeros Technology fell 7.6% to 8.39p, on announcing that it planned to raise between £5m and £10m via a share issue and slash its headcount as part of an exit from direct sales business by the end of 2019.

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