StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks rebounded from Thursday's eight-month low heading into the weekend although investors remained braced for the release of monthly US employment data later in the day, amid growing concerns about the health of the world's biggest economy.

At midday the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 15 points or 0.2% at 7,092.

BP shares gained 1% to 490p after the oil giant announced that veteran chief executive Bob Dudley would stand down next year and be replaced by Bernard Looney, the current head of its oil and gas division.

AstraZeneca rose 0.9% to £70.02 as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the self-administration of the company's respiratory medication Fasnera in a pre-filled pen.

Defence contractor Meggitt added 1% to 617p on news that it secured a $48m contract for the supply of aerial weapons scoring systems to the US Army.

Among the losers were insurers Admiral, Direct Line and Hastings after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released its interim report on pricing in the £24bn a year retail insurance market.

Concerned about renewal pricing for 'vulnerable' customers, the FCA is considering a range of measures to lower renewal prices and force firms to offer cheaper products with the same cover where available.

MID- AND SMALL-CAP MOVERS

Top riser in the mid-cap FTSE 250 index was Aston Martin Lagonda, up 2% to 490p after a week in which it racked up heavy losses due to concerns over its indebtedness.

Office investor Workspace dipped 0.4% to 934p despite exchanging contracts for the disposal of a property in central London for £14.8m, well above its book value.

Flavour and ingredients supplier Treatt fell 0.6% to 407p after guiding for a 1% rise in annual revenue, with growth limited by a steep fall in citrus raw-material prices.

Financial services group WH Ireland fell 1.8% to 49.1p on news that chairman Tim Steel would retire at the end of the year, having overseen a management overhaul that included changes of chief executive and chief financial officer.

Top small-cap riser was Cannabidiol (CBD) supplier Zoetic International which puffed 12% higher to 4.1p after it announced that first-half revenue had more than doubled as more stores in the US stocked its CBD-infused smoking products.

US EMPLOYMENT DATA

After a series of disappointing US macro-economic data including both Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Indices (PMIs) this week, investors will be hoping that the much-watched Non-Farm Payroll data doesn't send the market into another tail-spin.

The data, which measures the change in private-sector payrolls excluding the agricultural sector, is expected to show an increase of 145,000 jobs in September compared with 130,000 new jobs in August.

Also in focus will be growth in average hourly earnings, which is widely watched as a measure of wage inflation. Both numbers will be released at 1.30pm BST.




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