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13 Feb 2019 | 12:01

FTSE testing 2019 highs as sentiment improves

By midday the FTSE 100 was up 0.6% to 7,174.95, close to its highest levels of the year so far. The index is boosted by hopes for a de-escalation in trade tensions between the US and China.

Other European markets are also strong while US futures are pointing to a higher open when trading resumes on Wall Street later.


Packaging group Smurfit Kappa firmed 3.3% to £23.40, despite the company swinging to an annual loss after it discontinued its operations in strife-torn Venezuela.

Underlying earnings rose as management improved margins by successfully passing higher input costs onto customers.

Mining house BHP gained 1.5% after it approved almost $1bn of spending on new oil prospects in Mexico and the US Gulf of Mexico.

Hochschild Mining ticked up 0.1% to 190.7p on news that it would suspend operations at its Arcata precious metal mine in Peru, amid continuing low silver prices and adverse geological conditions.

Also in the resources space, Tullow Oil rose 4.4% to 220.2p after it swung to an annual profit and reinstated its dividend, as revenue rose and it recorded less write-downs.

Elsewhere, Intercontinental Hotels moved to expand its luxury offering by acquiring Six Senses Hotels from Pegasus Capital Advisors for $300m. Its shares added 1.2% to £45.10.

Homewares retailer Dunelm climbed 3.6% to 742.5p on the back of a rise in first-half profit supported by higher same-store sales.

House-builder Galliford Try gained 7% to 770.5p, despite booking a fall in first-half profit, as it guided for an annual result at the upper end of market expectations.


Immunodiagnostics system supplier Oncimmune shed 5.7% as its annual losses deepened on increased R&D and administrative spending.

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