StockMarketWire.com - After a see-saw morning, the FTSE 100 was up 0.3% to 7,088.55 by midday with housebuilders higher on evidence of a continuing surge in UK house prices.

Overnight US treasury secretary Janet Yellen said 'slightly higher' interest rates would be positive for the country, in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser inched up 0.1% to £64.94 on news that had agreed to sell its infant formula business in China to Primavera Capital for $2.2 billion, including debt.

Reckitt said it would retain an 8% shareholding in the business and expected net cash proceeds of around $1.3 billion, which it would use to cut debt.

Flexible office space group IWG tumbled 15% to 312.2p after it sounded another profit warning, as the pandemic continues to encourage people to work from home.

IWG said its underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation for 2021 were now expected to be 'well below' those of 2020.

Supermarket giant Tesco rose 0.2% to 225.38p following news that it and French rival Carrefour had decided not to extend a purchasing alliance beyond a three-year operational framework agreed in 2018.

The two companies would focus on their own opportunities when the alliance formally ends on 31 December.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca slid 1.1% to £79.63, even after it announced positive study results for a potential treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

German business park investor Sirius Real Estate edged back 0.2% to 100.96p, despite it upping its annual dividend 6.4% after it boosted profit on valuation gains and increased rental income.

Sirius declared a final dividend of 1.98c per share, up 10% year-on-year, bringing the total dividend for the year through March to 3.8pc, up from 3.57c.

Advertising firm S4 Capital rose 2.1% to 599.13p, having upgraded its guidance after its revenue in the first four months of 2020 jumped almost 90% 'as the global economy snaps back from the pandemic'.

SF's organic gross profit in 2021 was now seen rising 35%, up from previously upgraded guidance of 35%, amid an 84% rise in the first four months of the year.

Consumer goods group Venture Life gained 4.5% to 93p on news that it had acquired women's health group BBI Healthcare for up to £36 million from a company ultimately majority owned by Exponent Private Equity.

Crumlin, Wales-based BBIH produced a brand for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis and two brands of glucose supplements for diabetes and energy management.

Disease testing group Omega Diagnostics dropped 3.0% to 61.1p on announcing that details of a Covid-19 test manufacturing contract with the UK government were taking longer than expected to materialise.

Omega said it was still waiting for confirmation on which test it would be required to manufacture and would provide a further update once a test was confirmed.

Fellow diagnostics group Avacta added 2.9% to 245.95p after it announced positive news for its Covid-19 test.

Avacta said the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had confirmed registration of its Covid-19 antigen lateral flow test, allowing the company to place the product on the UK market.

Invoicing services group Tungsten firmed 4.1% to 38p on announcing that said it had been selected by a global human resources software group to support a new e-invoicing initiative in Europe and the US.


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