- UK stocks traded in positive territory on Wednesday after global exchanges were boosted by hopes of easing political tensions in Hong Kong and positive Chinese services-sector data.

In Hong Kong, expectations were mounting that chief executive Carrie Lam would withdraw a controversial China extradition bill that had sparked large and sometimes violent protests.

The pound, meanwhile, was volatile after Boris Johnson lost his first ever vote in parliament and said he would attempt to call a general election.

At midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 22 points or 0.3% at 7,290.


Asia-focused insurer Prudential was the biggest gainer on the FTSE 100, adding 4.5% to £14.10, while in the banking sector index heavyweight HSBC gained 1.6% to 603p and emerging market rival Standard Chartered added 3.4% to 646p.

Royal Bank of Scotland erased early losses after raising its provision for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) by between £600m and £900m, adding 1.2% to 186p.

British American Tobacco added 0.1% to £29.16 after it priced a $3.5bn bond offering to refinance upcoming maturities, potentially redeem some of its bonds early and for general corporate purposes.

Pharmaceutical mainstay AstraZeneca traded sideways at £74.50 following news that its lung cancer drug had received marketing approval in China.

House-builder Barratt Developments lost 3.0% to 604p despite reporting record margins and profits for the year to June. Investors were more concerned by the downward trend in selling prices and completions.


Wealth manager Miton rallied 25% to 51p after it agreed to be acquired by rival Premier Asset Management in an all-share based deal. Premier shares were unchanged at 171.5p.

Tiziana Life Sciences soared 25% to 60p having reported positive clinical trial data for a treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC.

Security and surveillance system supplier Petards added 4% to 20.5p on revealing that it had won a £1.1m contract from a 'major UK defence systems contractor'.

Homewares retailer Dunelm reversed its early gains, shedding 9% to 802p despite reporting 35% growth in pre-tax profits for the year to end-June and declaring a special dividend.

Investors seem rattled by the chief executive comment about being cautious over the full year outlook and the potential negative impact of Brexit uncertainty on consumer spending.

Cycling and outdoors equipment retailer Halfords also reversed early gains to trade down 0.7% at 171p after reporting weaker sales which it pinned on milder summer weather and waning consumer confidence.

Online fashion retailer Quiz slumped 12% to 16.4p amid falling sales, blamed on a continuation throughout the summer of challenging trading conditions it reported in June.

Gene and cell therapy company Oxford Biomedica dipped 0.5% to 636p as it booked a deeper first-half loss, after sales fell and it upped spending on R&D.

Somero Enterprises, which supplies technology to help builders level concrete, sank 21% to 220p after it booked a 23% fall in first-half profit, partly owing to a bout of heavy rainfall hurting sales in the US.

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