StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened higher on Wednesday following a mixed lead from Asian exchanges, as investors braced for the release of US Fed minutes later in the day that could offer hints on the direction of interest rates.

At 0837, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 39.17 points, or 0.6%, at 7.164.17, on a relatively quiet day for local company news.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca fell 0.4% to 7,242p after announcing that a lung cancer treatment failed to improve survival rates compared with chemotherapy during a clinical trial.

Hostel-focused online booking platform Hostelworld slumped 10% owing to a fall in first-half profit, cut to its dividend and profit warning for the full year.

Consultancy firm Science Group fell 2.4% to 183.09p as it agreed to lift its holding in Frontier Smart Technologies to a controlling 52%, while offering to buy out the rest of the shares for 25p each.

Science Group also offered the struggling radio technology group, expected in December to breach its debt covenants, a potential replacement credit facility. Frontier shares were unchanged at 24p.

Software provider Brady reversed 0.9% to 56p after it warned on profits, blaming a failure to convert its business pipeline into as much revenue as hoped.

Packaging company Robinson gained 1.3% to 79p, as it eked out a modest first-half profit driven by rising sales, offset by recruitment and training costs.

Specialist lender Orchard Funding shed 2.0% to 75p despite announcing that it boosted its annual lending volumes and revenue, and had also decided to apply for its own banking licence.

Regal Petroleum firmed 7.0% to 35p as it increased the proven resource estimate at its Vasyschevskoye gas and condensate licence in Ukraine.

Asiamet Resources gained 7.6% to 3.88p after it signed a non-binding agreement with a Chinese company to develop its BKM copper mine in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

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