StockMarketWire.com - UK investors were in positive mood in midday trade on Thursday, sending the FTSE 100 higher as Brits went to the polls to vote in the general election, the first winter polling day since 1923. The polls have narrowed in the past week of campaigning making the results to close to call, said most experts.

At 11.50am, the benchmark FTSE 100 was up 39.72 points, roughly 0.5%, at 7,255.97, while the more UK-concentrated FTSE 250 was also ahead, albeit by a slimmer 0.17% margin at 20,683.13.

Leading the blue-chips higher was sports fashion chain JD Sports, which topped the FTSE 100 index at midday with a 2.7% gain at 746.6p. Primark-owner Associated British Foods led the loser board, its share price off 2.3% or so at £24.23.

In corporate news, Electrical appliances and gadgets retailer Dixons Carphone soared nearly 6% to 139.4p as it slashed annual losses as cost cuts helped offset weaker revenues amid a tough backdrop in the UK electricals market and ongoing weakness in mobile.

Construction business Balfour Beatty bounced 3.4% to 238.2p as the infrastructure group said profit was expected to be slightly ahead of expectations following additional asset sales in the second half of the year.

By contrast, construction infrastructure group John Laing plunged 11% to 350p as the company warned that its net asset value for the full year was expected to fall short of market expectations.

Smaller construction business Costain was also a hefty faller, losing more than 18% to 156.8p after a judgement went against it over a road building scheme.

Energy firm Tullow Oil rallied 16% to 61p as bargain hunters swooped on the discounted stock. The shares have plunged in recent weeks from 200p levels as the company was forced to downgrade guidance.

Imperial Leather soaps firm PZ Cussons shed 1.5% to 190.8p following the announcement that chief executive Alex Kannelis is due to retire at the end of January 2020 after 13 years in the role.

The company also released a trading update for the half year to end of November which reported that challenging market conditions across key geographies had led to a decline in first-half revenue and operating profit compared with last year.

Outsourcing group Serco nudged 1.4% higher to 148p after announcing it expects record order intake of £5bn for 2019, full-year 2019 revenue is expected to grow by 14% to £3.2bn.

Ocado rose 1.3% to £12.135 as its joint venture with Marks & Spencer, Ocado Retail, reported growth in retail revenue of 10.8% to £429.1m in the 13 weeks to 1 December 2019. The collaboration is said to be 'working well'.

Property developer Hammerson reversed earlier gains to fall 1.6% to 289.2p following completion of the sale of its 75% stake in the Parisian shopping destination Italie Deux to AXA Investment Managers for €430m.

Oil services engineer Weir saw its share price nudge 1.3% to the good at £14.385 following two appointments to its group executive which strengthen its focus on sustainability and technology.

Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca increased 0.5% to £73.41 in early trading on the news that its drug to treat patients with non-small cell lung cancer received marketing authorisation from China's National Medical Products Administration.


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