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11 Sep 2018 | 09:05

FTSE opens lower as Brexit deal optimism strengthens pound

UK stocks opened lower on Tuesday as rising confidence that the UK and EU would successfully strike a Brexit deal strengthened the pound, weighing on exporters.

At 0858, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 24.21 points, or 0.3%, at 7.255.09.

Big tobacco companies with large offshore operations were among the hardest hit by Sterling's rise, with British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands falling 1.5% and 1.1%, respectively.

Sports retailer JD Sports rose 1.0% as it defied the gloomy UK consumer backdrop with a 19% rise in first-half profit.

Equipment rental company Ashtead Group gained 2.9% after it boosted its outlook on full-year profits and expanded its share buyback programme, as demand for tools and equipment remained strong.

Cairn Energy slipped 4.1% as it swung to a first-half loss amid a disappointing operating performance at its North Sea oil assets.

Chemicals company Elementis fell 4.3% on news that it would buy Mondo Minerals from private equity group Advent International for an enterprise value of $500m, lower than the $600m it had agreed in June.

Anglo American shed 0.5% after the value of diamond sales fell at its De Beers unit.

Food packing group Hilton Food fattened by 1.5% as it booked a 14% rise in first-half profit owing to higher sales volumes in the UK, Ireland and Australia.

Financial adviser services provider SimplyBiz jumped 7% after it declared a maiden dividend, amid rising revenue and underlying profits. The company booked a bottom-line loss, mainly owing to one-off costs associated with is IPO in April.

Fresh potato and daffodil supplier Produce Investments jumped 33%, despite confirming that it expected to book annual impairment and other exceptional charges of £16.0m-to-£16.5m. The company also said it expected its underlying earnings to be in line with market expectations.

Trust and fund administration services provider Sanne Group gained 2.2% despite it posting a 13% fall in first-half profit. Revenue rose but the company's margins contracted as it investment more in its product offering.

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