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04 Sep 2019 | 16:56

UK stocks lifted by HK calm but retailers fall on Brexit fears

UK stocks ended in positive territory on Wednesday after global exchanges were boosted by hopes of easing political tensions in Hong Kong and positive Chinese services-sector data.

In Hong Kong, expectations were mounting that chief executive Carrie Lam would withdraw a controversial China extradition bill that had sparked large and sometimes violent protests.

The pound, meanwhile, was volatile after Boris Johnson lost his first ever vote in parliament and said he would attempt to call a general election.

At 4.45pm the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 30 points or 0.4% at 7,298.

BIG-CAP MOVERS

Asia-focused insurer Prudential was the biggest gainer on the FTSE 100, adding 3.9% to £14.02, while in the banking sector index heavyweight HSBC gained 2% to 606p and emerging market rival Standard Chartered added 3% to 644p.

Royal Bank of Scotland ended the day flat at 184p after revealing it needed to raise its provision for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) by between £600m and £900m after a surge in claims ahead of the 29 August deadline.

British American Tobacco shed 0.6% to £28.95 after it priced a $3.5bn bond offering to refinance upcoming maturities, potentially redeem some of its bonds early and for general corporate purposes.

Pharmaceutical mainstay AstraZeneca also dropped 0.6% to £73.87 following news that its lung cancer drug had received marketing approval in China.

House-builder Barratt Developments was the worst performing stock in the FTSE 100 losing 4.2% to 596p despite reporting record margins and profits for the year to June. Investors were more concerned by the downward trend in selling prices and completions.

MID-CAP WINNERS & LOSERS

Wealth manager Miton rallied 27% to 51.9p after it agreed to be acquired by rival Premier Asset Management in an all-share based deal. Premier shares firmed 0.4% to 172.5p.

Tiziana Life Sciences soared 25% to 60p having reported positive clinical trial data for a treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC.

Security and surveillance system supplier Petards added 4% to 20.5p on revealing that it had won a £1.1m contract from a 'major UK defence systems contractor'.

Homewares retailer Dunelm reversed its early gains, shedding 9% to 800p despite reporting 35% growth in pre-tax profits for the year to end-June and declaring a special dividend.

Investors seemed rattled by the chief executive's caution towards the full year outlook and the potential impact of Brexit uncertainty on consumer spending.

Cycling and outdoors equipment retailer Halfords also reversed early gains to trade down 1.7% at 169p after reporting weaker sales which it pinned on milder summer weather and waning consumer confidence.

Online fashion retailer Quiz slumped 12% to 16.2p amid falling sales, blamed on a continuation throughout the summer of challenging trading conditions it reported in June.

Somero Enterprises, which supplies technology to help builders level concrete, sank 20.7% to 222p after it booked a 23% fall in first-half profit, partly owing to a bout of heavy rainfall hurting sales in the US.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com
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