StockMarketWire.com - Investors drew in their horns in typically low volume trading on Friday as they mull sensitive political issues and the firm rally during the last weeks of December.

An overnight US airstrike on Baghdad airport, which killed top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, will jangle nerves in particular given the potential for heightening an already tense situation between the US and Iranian governments.

There is also news that energy regulator Ofgem has announced a series of financial penalties on three energy firms following its investigation into power cuts last summer, amounting to £10.5m.

At midday, the benchmark FTSE 100 index is trading around 35 points lower at 7,568.60, while the mid cap FTSE 250 lost even more, slumping by more than 1% from recent record highs.

ONLINE SHINES FOR NEXT

Next, a bellwether of UK high street fashion retail, saw its share price lose early progress to fall round 1% to £68.92 despite reporting a 5% jump in pre-Christmas sales as online business was brisk. This also led the company to up its full year profit guidance.

The retailer attributed the sales performance boost to a 'much colder November' than last year and improved stock availability in both its retail stores and online.

Housebuilder Bovis Homes slumped more than 5% to £13.06 after completing its acquisition of Linden Homes and Partnerships & Regeneration businesses from Galliford Try, and its name change to Vistry.

Galliford Try, which has now exited all house building activities, will be run in future by Bill Hocking, who has now formally taken up his role as chief executive of Galliford Try.

Galliford shares stayed flat at 174.8p.

UK textile services provider Johnson Service saw its share price gain 1.3% to 201.5p as it revealed its Leeds plant opening is on track for Spring 2020 and that it had experienced a strong trading period.

The company also confirmed completion of its Fresh Linen acquisition.

HEADWIND FOR RYANAIR

Budget airline Ryanair fell 2.3% to €14.59 despite reporting 9% growth in December traffic to 11.2m passengers.

Airlines are clearly out of favour today with rival discount flyer EasyJet topping the FTSE 100 loser board, off 3.2% at £13.84.

British American Tobacco rallied more than 2% to £33.34.5, heading the FTSE 100 index, after it welcomed FDA guidance on the US vapour market and confirmed that its US subsidiary Reynolds American will comply with new flavour guidelines.

Push-to-talk technology developer Mobile Tornado slumped nearly 8% to 3.5p after telling investors that it anticipates a shortfall in revenues for the full year 2019.

The top line miss comes as a result of a delay to the full deployment of its solution with a government agency, the company said, and a major public utility in Israel.


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