StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened lower on Wednesday as investors grappled with political upheaval on both sides of the Atlantic, including a court vote against Boris Johnson's proroguing of parliament and launch of an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump.

At 0857, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 51.08 points, or 0.7%, at 7.240.35.

Supermarket-chain J Sainsbury rose 2.5% to 218.3p, as its sales edged up in the second quarter, but fell on a like-for-like basis.

The company also said it expected its annual profit to meet consensus market expectations, though it warned of a fall in the first half.

Defence contractor Babcock International gained 4.7% to 566.6p after it confirmed its full-year guidance for revenue, operating profit and free cash flow.

Imperial Leather soap supplier PZ Cussons slipped 1.4% to 209.5p as it warned that its underlying results for the full year would be flat, amid tough trading conditions in Nigeria, the UK and Australia.

Sports car maker Aston Martin Lagonda reversed 4.2% to 550.8p after it raised $150m from a bond issue to buffer the company from a tough trading environment, with an option to raise another $100m.

Water supplier United Utilities gained 0.7% to 796p on announcing that it expected to post higher revenue and profit in the first half of its financial year.

Boohoo pared early gains to fall 3.1% to 257.64p after the online fashion retailer followed up a sales guidance upgrade in early September with a bumper 83% jump in first-half profit.

Boohoo shares had rallied since 5 September, when it announced the improved sales outlook.

Specialised technical product supplier Diploma cheapened by 0.4% to 1,662p on news that it agreed to acquire seals and surgical products businesses in the UK and Australia, respectively, for a combined £15.5m.

London West-End property investor Shaftesbury firmed 0.1% to 883p, on announcing that it was continuing to achieve rents at or above estimated rental values, as most of its retail occupiers enjoyed 'busy' conditions.

London Southend Airport owner Stobart fell 1.1% to 126.4p, despite it reporting a jump in first-half passenger volumes.

The company also warned that it was taking a more cautious approach to the second half owing to Brexit-related economic uncertainty.

Hostel group Safestay rallied 12% to 35.39p, as it posted improved adjusted earnings, buoyed by a 6% rise in its average bed rate to £19.50.

Ceramics company Coral Products slumped 21% to 5.3p after it revealed sales and profits in the first four months of its financial year were below management expectations.

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