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17 Dec 2018 | 08:59

UK stocks open 0.3% lower as Asos warning hurts retailers

UK stocks opened lower on Friday after the retail sector was shaken by a profit downgrade by online fashion specialist Asos.

At 0852, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 23.38 points, or 0.3%, at 6.821.79.

Asos plunged 40% after it cut its full-year profit and sales expectations, citing disappointing November trading.

Rival online retailer Boohoo got caught up in the fallout, slumping 9.4% despite stating that it continued to perform 'comfortably' in line with market expectations.

Other, larger retailers were also hurt, with Marks & Spencer and Next shedding 3.2% and 3.0%, respectively.

Power utility SSE fell 1.7% on news that it had decided to pull the plug on a proposed merger of its retail energy business with Innogy's npower unit.

SSE said it would now consider other options for the business instead, including a de-merger or outright sale to another company.

Miners were having a better morning, with BHP, Rio Tinto and Glencore rising 2.8%, 1.7% and 1.6%, respectively.

Rio Tinto also announced that it had completed the sale of its aluminium smelter at Dunkerque, France to Liberty House for $500m.

Polymetal International, meanwhile, gained 1.2% on news that it had sold the Khakanja gold and silver mine in Russia to a group of local buyers for $30m.

Cairn Energy gained 0.4% after its partner in Senagal, Australia's Woodside Energy, commenced early design work on an offshore exploration campaign in the African nation. Carin holds 40% of the joint venture.

Chemicals company Croda International fell 0.4% as it agreed to acquire vaccine service company Brenntag Biosector for €72m.

Storage company Big Yellow said it had won planning consent for a new site at Battersea in London. Its shares fell 0.2%.

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