StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened substantially lower on Wednesday as markets continued to reel from disappointing US manufacturing data that stoked global growth fears.

At 0852, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 85.93 points, or 1.2%, at 7.274.39.

Gambling company Flutter Entertainment, which used to be called Paddy Power Betfair, rallied 15% to 8,774p, after it announced a merger with Poker Stars-owner The Star Group.

Flutter shareholders would end up with 54.64% of the merged group, with The Stars Group owning the rest.

Supermarket chain Tesco rose 1.1% to 242.1p, even as it announced the shock departure of chief executive David Lewis next summer.

Tesco also booked a better-than-expected rise in underlying first-half profit and said Lewis would be replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance chief operating officer Ken Murphy.

Security and defence contractor QinetiQ firmed 2.4% to 298.6p on announcing that it had agreed to acquire advanced sensing solutions provider for warfare Manufacturing Techniques for up to $125m.

Builders merchanting group Grafton added 0.1% to 773p as it completed the sale of plumbing unit Plumbase to Plumbing and Heating Investments for £66.8m, including debt.

Flooring retailer Topps Tiles slipped 6.5% to 64.51p on warning that it expected to post a small fall in annual revenue, after a more challenging economic backdrop hurt sales in the fourth quarter.

Budget carrier Ryanair descended 1.7% to 10.59c as it posted 8% passenger growth during the month of September.

Rival low-cost airline Wizz Air shed 0.5% to 3,625p even as it carried 20% more passengers in September, having added new routes to Poland, Hungary and Romania.

Hochschild Mining reversed 1.3% to 201p on news that it had acquired a rare earth deposit in Chile.

Banknote authentication Spectra Systems gained 1.1% to 131.44p after it bagged a new five-year service contract for a G7 country's central bank with a minimum value of $0.4m.

Online wine retailer Naked Wines softened 0.6% to 252.5p as it sold its Lay & Wheeler and Vinotheque units to Coterie for £11.3m.

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