StockMarketWire.com - UK share markets continue their decline at midday on Thursday as uncertainty over the outlook for US interest rate cuts following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting kept investors on edge.

Worries about the fragility of the global economy were also evident in data from Europe on Thursday, where Germany's private sector continued to struggle in August. But the negative tone was not so evident in key commodity markets with oil prices making modest gains.

At 11.50am, the benchmark FTSE 100 was 45.2 points, or about 0.60% lower at 7,158.76.

LARGER COMPANIES ON THE MOVE

Doing its best to prop-up up the market is private hospitals operator NMC Health, which soars to 22% to £23.60 after it emerged that two groups, one backed by China's Fosun, are competing to buy a 40% stake in the company, potentially 'at a premium to the market price'.

NMC shares were trading at a 12-month low yesterday, having fallen by around 30% this year. The company also released strong first half results with revenues up 32% to $1.24bn and underlying net income 30% higher at $151m, as well as announcing that it would buy back up to $200m of its own shares.

Copper mining giant Antofagasta slipped 0.3% to 816.6p even as it said core earnings jumped in the first half of the year amid higher copper sales volumes. But falling copper prices and a cautionary outlook kept a lid on investor optimism.

The miner also said the outlook on the copper market remained uncertain amid the ongoing US-China trade war.

Bingo-to-casinos firm Rank rose around 1% to 153.6p after earlier posting a slump in full-year profits as a tough first half offset gains in the second half of the year.

Drugs developer AstraZeneca added 0.4% to £74.41 after it said its drug to treat anaemia in non-dialysis-dependent patients suffering from chronic kidney disease had received marketing authorisation in China. It also said it had agreed to buy a US Food and Drug Administration priority review voucher for $95m in cash from a subsidiary of Swedish Orphan Biovitrum.

ViiV Healthcare, a GlaxoSmithKline-Pfizer joint venture, said its injectable HIV treatment had met its primary goal in a clinical trial, reducing the number of treatments needed every year, compared to an oral treatment. Glaxo's share price slipped 0.2% to £1681.

Premier Oil jumped 4.3% to 75.4p after it reported an increase in first-half earnings on the back of higher production and left its full-year output guidance unchanged.

South32, the coal group spun-out of BHP, slumped more than 7% to 145.3p after it posted a fall in full-year earnings as lower aluminium and thermal coal prices more than offset an increase in production volumes and cost-reduction initiatives.

Building materials supplier CRH lost around 1% at £26.45 despite saying it would continue its share buyback programme following the group's first half profits jump. The performance was led by good showing by its heritage business and strong contributions from recent acquisitions.

MOVERS AMONG SMALLER COMPANIES

Pantheon International nudged 0.4% lower to £22.80 after it reported a 3.4% monthly increase in net asset value per share to 2,487,6p as at 31 July 2019 as valuation gains, investment income and foreign exchange movement more than offset expenses and taxes during the period.

Animal genetics company Genus declined 10p, or 0.4%, to £25.8 after it said Stephen Wilson, currently group finance director, had been appointed as chief executive with effect from the close of business on 13 September 2019.

Infrastructure investor John Laing slumped more than 7.5% to 351.8p as it reported an uptick in half-yearly net asset value despite a slump in half-yearly profits as a number of challenges with its renewable energy assets in Australia and Europe hurt performance.

Capital Drilling rose 2.7% to 57p after it reported a slight uptick in core earnings as a decline in average revenue per operating rig kept a lid on performance.

Solar farms investor Foresight Solar dipped 0.8% to 122p after it reported a fall in net assets in the first half of the year driven by a downward revision of UK power price forecasts.

Aviation, energy and civil engineering group Stobart added 0.4% to 111.2p after it said it had entered into a five-year partnership with low-cost airline Wizz Air with three new routes set to operate from London Southend Airport, which it owns.

Anglo Asian Mining rallied nearly 9% to 148.5p after it confirmed media speculation that it had been in talks with the Government of Azerbaijan concerning a possible transaction of the company's subsidiary R.V. Investment Group Services. The company stressed, however, there was no certainty that the talks would lead to a deal.

Altus Strategies stayed flat at 4.75p after it said it had signed a non-binding term sheet with Glomin Services for a joint venture on the company's Lakanfla and Tabakorole gold projects located in western and southern Mali respectively.

Engineering business Goodwin saw its share price rise more than 4% £35.80 after it reported a rise in profits and said a significant rise in sales orders within its mechanical engineering division had bolstered its order book to a record level.




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