- The FTSE 100 held onto its gains on Thursday, lifted by positive earnings reports and hopes of progress on trade between the US and China.

Also, in a surprise turn of events, two members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee voted to lower interest rates to avert an economic slowdown, and governor Mark Carney said he would consider cutting rates if the economy didn't pick up.

At 4.30pm the FTSE 100 was trading up 16 points or 0.2% at 7,413 while the FSTE 250 index of mid- and small-cap stocks traded up 206 points or 1% at 20,422.

RSA Insurance Group was the biggest climber, adding 4% to 553p after it reported 'pleasing progress' in the year-to-date 2019, with underwriting profit strongly up.

Supermarket group Sainsbury's added 0.4% to 206p despite a 0.1% decline in like-for-like grocery sales in the 28 weeks to 21 September.

Rolls-Royce Holdings erased earlier losses, climbing 0.7% to 782p following a warning that despite improved trading since the half year, it now expects full-year operating profit and FCF outcome towards the lower end of guidance ranges.

It reported that following a thorough review of the Trent 1000 programme, the company is expected to take an exceptional charge on the Trent 1000 of £1.4bn in 2019.

Credit provider Provident Financial was 2.7% higher at 449p as it reported that all three business divisions produced good business volumes in the third quarter.

Tate & Lyle increased 5% to 697p after it reported 'encouraging progress' in the first half of the year to September 2019, as group statutory profit before tax of climbed 45% to £164m, due to lower exceptional costs.

Bovis Homes nudged up 0.2% to £11.65 following an announcement that it has agreed to acquire Galliford Try's Linden Homes and Partnerships & Regeneration businesses for £1.075bn in a cash and shares deal.

G4S rallied 3.2% to 211p on the news that revenue grew 4.9% in the third quarter led by growth in its security business, with revenue growth of 4.7% for the nine months.

Luxury car-maker Aston Martin had a see-saw day, reversing earlier losses to trade 3% higher at 427p despite making to a loss in the third quarter of the year, as weaker demand the UK and Europe continued to pressure wholesale volumes.

Insurer Hiscox was the major loser on the FTSE 100, down 10.6% to £12.42 after analysts at Jefferies and JPMorgan downgraded their view on the stock following results.

One of the worst performers among the mid- and small-caps was budget bookseller Theworks, which fell 42% to 44.7p after it warned on profit amid a slump in like-for-like sales.

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