StockMarketWire.com - The UK stock market was understandably very quiet on Christmas Eve as investors embraced the holiday.

With the London Stock Exchange due to close at lunchtime there was little appetite to trade shares, and precious little news to draw attention.

With no corporate news from the UK's blue-chip index, stocks going ex-dividend were the main factors for investors on Christmas Eve amid thin volumes.

At 12pm the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index had nudged a handful of points higher at 7,626.50, continuing the Santa rally that has lifted the UK's benchmark index to six month highs.

NMC HEALTH BACK IN STOCK MARKET A&E

Hospital operator NMC Health recovered from earlier 7% losses but remained in the red as the stock continued its volatile spell in the wake of allegations made by notorious short seller Muddy Waters.

Having soared 35% on Monday the NMC share price dipped 1% £17.62.

BT led the FTSE 100 fallers, its stock fell 3% to 195.96p. Distribution business Bunzl was the biggest riser, gaining 1.7% at £21.51.

Heat treatment and specialist thermal services provider Bodycote rose 1.8% to 964.5p as it agreed a $200m deal to acquire Ellison Surface Technologies.

Bodycote said the money for the acquisition will come from its existing committed credit facilities, and the deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020, contingent on regulatory approvals.

Wholesale market intermediary TP Icap edged 0.3% higher to 413.1p after it said it will buy private brokerage group Louis Capital for an initial $21m.

Completion is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2020 and is subject to regulatory approval by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in the US and other regulators.

Environmental investor John Laing reversed earlier gains to decline 0.5% to 375.2p as investors digested the news of its purchase of a stake in an Australian waste-to-energy project for A$51.5m, or £28m.

GOING FOR GOLD

Gold miner Resolute Mining gained 2.3% to 61.5p after announcing it has forward sold an additional 30,000 ounces of gold at an average price of $1,501 per ounce.

Resolute said it has extended its US dollar denominated gold hedge position to secure price certainty during 2020 for a portion of the US dollar revenues generated from its African gold mines, Syama in Mali and Mako in Senegal.

Georgian bank TBC Bank fell 1% to £13.06 following a loan agreement it has signed worth 90m Georgian Lari (£24.4m) with the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Car dealership Pendragon moved 0.5% lower to 12.6p after announcing the sale of its Jaguar Land Rover franchise in Newport Beach, California, for £31.1m.

Drugs developer Nuformix nudged 1.7% higher to 7.4p after it said in its half-year report that it has made significant progress, successfully completing its first clinical development study for its lead product NXP001 during the period.


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