- UK stocks continue to gain ground on Friday, in line with other European markets after the US and China appeared to soften their rhetoric on trade tensions.

The pound remained pressured by no-deal Brexit fears, providing a foreign exchange benefit to companies with offshore revenues.

At midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 47 points or 0.7% at 7,231, its highest level of the week.


Healthcare provider NMC Health moved up 5.3% to £24.50, taking its market value to £4.8bn and out of the FTSE 100 'relegation zone'. The index undergoes its quarterly re-shuffle next month based on the closing prices on 3 September.

Shares in online grocery retailer Ocado gained 2.4% to a three-month high of £13.12 continuing their recent run of form despite weaker consumer confidence data.

Building materials supplier Grafton firmed 8% to 737p after reporting an uptick in half-yearly profits thanks to margin strength at its merchanting and retailing businesses in Ireland.


Premier Foods, the maker of Mr Kipling cakes and Oxo stock cubes, traded sideways to 33.15p on news that it had appointed the head of its UK business, Alex Whitehouse, as its chief executive after a long search process.

The company also appointed former Reckitt Benckiser chief financial officer Colin Day as its new chairman, after CFO and interim CEO Alastair Murray had decided to leave.

Iron-ore trader Ferrexpo gained 1% to 201p after a review found that although there was evidence funds it donated to the Blooming Land Charity had been misappropriated, none of its directors, management or employees were involved.

Power generation group Rurelec gained 6.7% to 0.64p, despite swinging to a first-half loss, after it cut administrative costs and said it was considering assets sales, including in Chile.

One of the big losers was footwear retailer Shoe Zone whose shares slumped 33% to 128p as it warned on profits and announced the immediate resignation of chief executive Nick Davis.

Shoe Zone had previously managed to avoid the fall-out on the high street and had gained a reputation for being a relatively safe bet, hence the surprise at the warnings and the severity of the sell-off.

The other big loser was marketing company Jaywing which fell dived 38% to 3.7p after it said it was in talks with its banks and shareholders about raising capital amid tough trading conditions.

Shares in energy firm Parkmead fell 7.5% to 47p on the announcement that it had agreed to acquire Pitreadie Farm, an owner of farmland and sites in Scotland with renewable energy potential, for £4.9m in shares.

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