StockMarketWire.com - UK equity markets ended the Wednesday session on the front foot as investors rallied around solid corporate results from several overseas earning companies and eyed a possible new rate cut by the US Fed.

At the close, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was 27 points ahead at 7,333.61, its highest close since the start of October.

LARGE CAP NEWS

Shares in drugs developer GlaxoSmithKline bolstered investor sentiment after raising its full year earnings guidance in the wake of a forecast-thumping third quarter. That saw the share price rally 2.4% to a six-year high £17.82.

Standard Chartered rose 2.5% to 712.8p after the bank posted a 16% rise in third-quarter underlying profit, driven by an especially strong performance at its corporate and private banking divisions.

Going the other way is clothing retailer Next, down 3.2% to £66.54, even as it posted 2% growth in third-quarter full-price sales and stuck to its annual profit guidance.

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa firmed 2% to £25.96 as its operating earnings for the first nine months of the year grew 11%, buoyed by stronger sales volumes and margins.

Computer services provider Computacenter rallied 9% to £13.75 on announcing that its revenue and profit in the third quarter were 'well ahead' on-year.

AstraZeneca rose 2.6% to £75.80 after it agreed to sell and licence the commercial rights to its schizophrenia and bipolar drugs in Europe and Russia to Cheplapharm.

Medical products and technologies company ConvaTec jumped 10% to 202.8p, having reported 4.6% organic revenue growth in the third quarter, limited to 2.4% on a reported basis due to currency moves.

Water utility Severn Trent edged back 0.5% to £22.47 on announcing that it had appointed Christine Hodgson as its new chairman to replace Andrew Duff when he retires in April.

Hodgson was currently executive chair of Capgemini UK and a senior independent director of Standard Chartered.

SMALLER COMPANIES

Banknote authentication group De La Rue crashed 20% to 149p, as it warned that its adjusted profit would be 'significantly lower' than market expectations.

Surveillance systems supplier Synectics tumbled 19% to 145.5p, as it warned of annual results 'materially below' market expectations.

Petra Diamonds fell 2% to 7.85p after millions of tonnes of material collapsed into the open pit of the Cullinan mine in South Africa following a thunderstorm.

Mining in the open pit at Cullinan was discontinued more than 50 years ago, with all current mining operations now underground, and Petra said the incident was not anticipated to have a material impact on production.


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