- UK stocks saw early morning gains largely evaporate by midday as investor optimism over US-China trade talk progress was undermined by patchy corporate news and a further delay on parliament's vote on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

At 12.00pm, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was just 6 points higher at 7,156.57, while the pound lost early strength versus the dollar to trade at $1.2987, roughly 0.11% up.

Insurance giant Prudential led the FTSE 100 loser board at midday, falling more than 8% to £13.82 after confirming the completion of the demerger of its wealth management business M&G.

Shareholders had retained their shares in Prudential and also received shares in M&G. The latter's shares started trading at an unmoved 222p.

Medical equipment manufacturer Smith & Nephew was also a heavy faller, slumping more than 8% to £16.79 on news that chief executive Namal Nawana will be standing down at the end of October to 'pursue other opportunities outside of the UK'.

Nawana would be replaced by Roland Diggelmann, who joined the company's board as a non-executive director in March 2018 was most recently CEO of Roche Diagnostics.


Food delivery firm Just Eat reversed 6.3% to 585.4p after its revenue grew more slowly than investors had hoped. Just Eat, which is in the middle of being taken over by Dutch rival, saw its top line increase 25% in the third quarter, a disappointment for many market watchers as softer consumer spending in the UK weighed on orders.

Software group Micro Focus fell 6.1% to £10.212 after Canadian software firm Open Text doused media speculation that it was considering an acquisition of the company.

Market watchers believe that parts or even all of the Micro Focus business is effectively up for sale.

Drug developer AstraZeneca shed 0.7% to £67.22 as its type-2 diabetes drug was approved by US regulators to reduce the risk of hospitalisation for heart failure in adults with the condition and established cardiovascular disease.


Industrial fastenings manufacturer Trifast sank 17% to 159.5p after it warned on profits amid a continuation of challenging market conditions into the second quarter of its financial year.

Petra Diamonds fell 2% to 7.92p as it reported a 24% fall in first-quarter revenue owing to lower gem prices and a poorer product mix.

Technology company Watchstone surged 40%-odd to 150p after it agreed to a settlement of claims made by law firm Slater & Gordon.

Cybersecurity software group Osirium Technologies nudged up 1.5% to 34.5p on announcing that it would raise around £4m via an issue of shares at 35p and convertible notes, to support the expansion of its business.

This is not the first time the cyber security minnow has tapped investors for extra cash, previously doing so at 156p at IPO, and then again at 135p in early 2018, demonstrating the struggles the company has had in meeting its ambitions.

Chemicals company investor Wilmcote shed 1.8% to 53p after its chief executive and chief financial officer both stood down, with immediate effect.

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