StockMarketWire.com - UK equity markets continue to trade modestly lower in early afternoon trading on Friday as fears that Donald Trump's support for laws backing Hong Kong protesters could mar progress in trade talks with China.

At 12.50pm, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 13.31 points, or about 0.18%, at 7,403.12, while the FTSE 250 fell further, off 0.34% at 20,951.79.

Online grocery technology firm Ocado was the big mover of the day, jumping nearly 12% to £13.46 - topping the FTSE 100 leader board - after it signed a partnership agreement to provide its technology to Japan's Aeon.

The company also said it would incur additional operating costs of £25m owing to extra support spending at its solutions business more broadly plus specific early implementation costs for Aeon.

Commercial vehicle hire company Northgate saw its early morning slide accelerate to 7% after announcing that it had agreed to acquire road support services group Redde by way of a share-based transaction worth about £394m.

Redde shareholders would be entitled to receive 0.3669 new Northgate shares for each of their Redde shares, which rose 3.4% to 112p. Northgate stock was trading at 324p, about half the level of five years ago.

'Daily Mirror' and 'Daily Express' newspaper publisher Reach rallied more than 10% to 92.1p after it announced that while its sales were still falling, the rate of decline had slowed in the second half.

The company also said that it was no longer in active discussions about acquiring assets from JPI Media, having first announced the talks in July.

Drug development heavyweight AstraZeneca nudged 0.3% to £75.25 on announcing that the US Food and Drug Administration had granted it a priority review for a drug to treat small cell lung cancer.

Racing car computer games maker Codemasters rallied 12% to 235p after reporting the full backing for its £20m share placing announced yesterday.

The fund raise is to acquire fellow games designer Slightly Mad Studios.

Heat and power distributor Aggregated Micro Power, trading as AMP Clean Energy, jumped 25% to 85p after it had accepted a £63.1m private equity bid.

Food ingredients business Real Good Food posted a first-half loss, as rising sales were offset by pressure on margins in its cake decorations unit. Its shares were unchanged at 6.62p.

Transport corridor analytics group Maestrano jumped 7% to 1.5p, having won a tree-monitoring contract from the Australian government to help it protect regions in the Northern Territory from the effects of uranium mining.

Business management group Watchstone reversed earlier losses to rise 2.4% to 147.5p as a planned asset sale was delayed until the end of December.

Woundcare specialist Advanced Medical Solutions shed 2.6% to 259p as it flagged a potential £2m hit to earnings, due to a supplier of topical adhesive products experiencing operational setbacks.


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