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18 Feb 2019 | 09:04

UK stocks open 0.3% lower as pound perks up

UK stocks opened lower on Monday as a stronger pound put pressure on exporters.

At 0858, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 19.04 points, or 0.3%, at 7.217.64.

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser gained 2.8% as it hit the top end of its annual sales guidance, supporting a rise in underlying earnings.

The company behind Nurofen and Strepsils also forecast 3-4% growth in like-for-like sales in 2019.

Coca-Cola HBC fell 0.9% on news that it had acquired Serbia-based confectionery business Bambi from funds advised by Mid Europa Partners in a deal worth €260m.

Specialist engineering firm Spirax-Sarco Engineering said it had entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Thermocoax Developpement from Chequers Capital, TCR Capital and other minority shareholders for €158m (£139m). Its shares gained 0.3%.

Educational publisher Pearson shed 1.1% on announcing that it had sold its US courseware business to Nexus Capital Management for $250m.

Convenience store owner McColl's Retail jumped 12%, despite its profit more than halving, as it posted a positive turnaround in like-for-like sales growth in the first quarter of the current year.

Construction company Galliford Try said it had completed the final section of the troubled Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, which would be open to traffic on 19 February. Its shares eased back 0.1%.

Petra Diamonds rallied 7.8% as its first-half losses narrowed, it reiterated its annual output guidance and it announced that chief executive Johan Dippenaar would stand down.

Flooring company Victoria slipped 13%, despite forecasting higher annual earnings, as it also warned that prioritising market share had put pressure on its margins.

Auto retailer Pendragon reversed 1.0% on announcing that it had appointed Jardine Matheson executive Mark Herbert as its new chief.

Fishing tackle and equipment retailer Angling Direct gained 2.1% as it forecast its annual revenue to rise by more than third, as international sales nearly doubled.

Oil and gas engineering services business Plexus Holdings fell 8.9% on forecasting its annual earnings to miss market expectations, due to lower margins and higher overheads.

Antibiotic developer Motif Bio slumped 19% after it announced that it would need to raise capital, having made an early debt repayment to Hercules Capital.

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