StockMarketWire.com - London's FTSE 100 finished Tuesday modestly in the black with the rally inspired by Boris Johnson's election win and progress on US-China trade talks running out of steam.

Reports that Prime Minister Johnson and his new Cabinet are intending to pass legislation that would make it illegal for the government to extend the transition period beyond the scheduled December 2020 endpoint put some version of a no deal Brexit back on the table and made investors nervous. A disappointing trading update from consumer goods giant Unilever also weighed on sentiment.

At 16.35 p.m. the blue chip benchmark was 6.23 points or 0.08% higher at 7,525.28.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Unilever, the maker of Flora margarine, Lipton tea and Dove soap, dropped 6.9% to £43.13 as it warned of underlying sales growth in 2019 'slightly below' its previous guidance of 'the lower half' of its 3-5% multi-year range.

For the coming financial year, Unilever also warned of full-year underlying sales growth in the lower half of its multi-year range.

Middle East-based private hospital operator NMC Health slumped 39% to £15.74 following a bear raid by Muddy Waters, the US short-seller having flagged 'serious doubts' about the company's financial statements.

Distribution and services group Bunzl fell 16p to £20.84 on forecasting revenue growth in a range of 2% to 3% for the full year, citing 'mixed' macroeconomic and market conditions.

Train and bus ticket distributor Trainline ticked up 5p to 515p as it reported 26% growth in revenue in the first nine months of its financial year, while sticking to its annual guidance.

The company also warned, however, that it expected ticket sales to be impacted by worker strikes in France.

Budget airline EasyJet encountered turbulence, the shares falling 5.1% to £14.25 after UBS downgraded the stock from 'neutral' to 'sell' given valuation concerns. UBS explained the company is trading at levels that 'don't reflect late cycle or geopolitical concerns'.

Healthcare services provider UDG Healthcare dropped 3.1% to 774.5p on news that chairman Peter Gray was standing down in September 2020.

Oil services group Petrofrac slipped 5.9% to 377.4p after it reported experiencing further tendering delays in its engineering and construction business, which weighed on its order book.

UK meat producer Cranswick fattened up by 6p to £33.28 after announcing that it had acquired pig farming group Packington Pork from the Mercer family, for an undisclosed sum.

Quality assurance provider Intertek firmed 1% to £57.42 as it acquired hospitality industry services provider Check Safety First, also for an undisclosed sum.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Specialist engineer Pressure Technologies rose 2.9% to 107.5p, having narrowed its annual losses after its sales grew by about a third.

Petra Diamonds added 0.72% to 8.4p as it appointed Peter Hill as its new chairman, to succeed founder Adonis Pouroulis when he stands down from the role at the end of March.

Hill was currently chairman of both geotechnical contractor Keller and building products company Volution.

Infection prevention product manufacturer Tristel gained 4.3% to 362.5p on announcing that it expected to post a rise in first-half profit, buoyed by a positive contribution from recently-acquired operations in Europe.


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