StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks tracked sideways at the open on Tuesday after the US and China showed further signs of progressing towards a 'phase one' trade deal, though catering group Compass slipped on a disappointing earnings update.

At 0847, the benchmark FTSE 100 index had inched down 0.66 points to 7.395.63.

Compass dropped 5.7% to £19.51 as it reported a 3.5% fall in annual pre-tax profit, despite delivering better-than-expected organic revenue growth, as acquisition costs and a weaker performance in Europe weighed.

Quality assurance provider Intertek softened by 1.0% to £54.897, even as it reported 7.4% growth in revenue over the 10 months through October.

Water utility Pennon firmed 2.4% to 948.6p on booking a 22% rise in first-half profit after a focus on cost savings helped offset lower demand for water during a cooler summer. Pennon also lifted its dividend by 6.4%.

Veterinary and pet products group Pets at Home rallied 9.0% to 233.62p on the back of a large rise in first-half profit, driven by strength in its retail business and a fall in restructuring charges at its veterinary division.

Pets at Home also forecast a full-year underlying profit towards the top end of current market consensus expectations.

Healthcare services group UDG Healthcare gave up 1.6% to 748p, even as it posted a larger annual profit buoyed by improved operating margins that offset a weaker sales performance.

Convenience food supplier Greencore reversed 5.8% to 233.9p, despite its annual profit more than trebling, as higher margins offset a fall in revenue owing to site disposals and exits.

Banknote and passport printer De La Rue tumbled 21% to 138.8 as it suspended its dividend after swinging to a first-half loss driven by pain in its currency division and weaker margins.

Specialist lender Paragon Banking gained 0.9% to 508p, having booked a higher underlying annual profit and hiked its dividend by 9.3%.

Shaftesbury, a property company focused on London's West End, fell 1.2% to 940p on posting a sharp fall in profit owing to revaluation losses.

The company, however, also lifted its annual dividend by 5.4% after increased rental income helped it boost its underlying earnings.

Meat producer Cranswick gained 2.2% to £32.80 as it reported a rise in first-half profit, led by increased wholesale and export demand for fresh pork and a contribution from the acquisition of Katsouris Brothers.

Flavoring ingredients provider Treatt reversed 2.6% to 426.65p on booking a 28% fall in annual profit, owing to a loss on the disposal of a businesses in Kenya, though its underlying performance improved.

Treatt's pre-tax profit before exceptional items rose 5.2% to £13.3m, as revenue edged up 0.5% to £112.7m.

Structural steel group Severfield shed 1.3% to 75p as it reported a 36% fall in first-half profit, which it pinned on the 'phasing of ongoing contract works' in its current UK and European order book.

Luxury furniture retailer Walker Greenbank gained 0.7% to 75p on news that it had extended its US agreement with distribution partnership with Kravet to include Canada.

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