StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened lower on Tuesday as investors braced for looming national elections and the imposition of more US trade tariffs on Chinese goods, while equipment hire company Ashstead issued a disappointing earnings update.

At 0850, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 56.32 points, or 0.8%, at 7.177.58.

Ashtead, which rents out heavy construction and industrial equipment, dropped 8% to £21.80, even as it reported a 6% rise in first-half profit, driven by growth in the US and Canadian markets.

The company, however, also experienced continued weakness at its UK arm, while the rate of its overall profit and revenue growth slowed during the second quarter.

Fashion retailer Ted Baker tumbled 16% to 336.8p as it warned on profits again, suspended its dividend and said chief executive Lindsay Page and executive chairman David Bernstein had both stepped down, with immediate effect.

Struggling infant goods retailer Mothercare shed 0.4% to 13.4p, having booked a deeper first-half loss, as sales continued to slide in a UK business recently placed into administration.

Sales also slipped at Mothercare's remaining offshore stores.

Computer services provider Computacenter rallied 6.3% to £16.29 on forecasting full-year revenue and profit 'well ahead' of current market expectations.

Luxury watch retailer Watches of Switzerland ticked 1.8% higher to 329.8p as it swung to a first-half loss, owing to costs associated with its recent initial public offering, though its underlying profits rose on higher sales.

JustEat gained 0.2% to 782.2p after it rejected an improved takeover offer from Prosus pitched at 740p per share and continued to endorse a rival bid from Takeaway.com.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon fell 0.6% to £14.996 on revealing plans to invest more than £200m on its pub estate over the next four years.

Domino's Pizza gave up 0.5% to 304.4p on the back of news that chairman Stephen Hemsley would step down at the end of the month and be replaced on an interim basis by current director Ian Bull.

Convienience store group McColl's Retail cheapened by 4.0% to 39.7p as it forecast annual earnings slightly below expectations, due to unseasonable weather and weaker consumer confidence in the second half.

Property investor Segro reversed 1.1% to 869p, having exchanged contracts to sell a portfolio of UK big box warehouses for £241m to a fund advised by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing.

Infrastructure services provider Nexus Infrastructure shed 6.1% to 160.65p after it booked a 38% fall in full-year profit, as margins shrunk at its Tamdown housing business. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com