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13 Sep 2019 | 08:38

UK stocks drift higher; led by banks

UK stocks drifted slightly higher at the open on Friday, led by gains in banking stocks.

At 0833, the benchmark FTSE 100 index had inched up 3.48 points to 7.348.15.

Lloyds and Barclays rose 2.6% and 2.0%, respectively.

Power utility SSE gained 1.4% to 1,182.5p on the back of news that it had agreed to sell its retail energy business to OVO for £500m, including debt.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon gained 0.5% to 1,557p after it posted a rise in annual profit and sales, though its underlying profit slipped as cost pressures dented its margins.

Recruitment company SThree added 1.1% to 296.7p, after it reported a 4% rise in third-quarter fee revenue, as a jump in contract and overseas revenue offset weakness for permanent positions, particularly in the UK.

Online gambling services provider Gan rallied 19% to 86.5p as growth in the budding US waging market helped it deliver record earnings.

The company also said that although a formal sales process had attracted 'multiple' bids, none were considered high enough and it had decided to continue to go it alone.

Nationwide Building Society shed 5.8% to 154.5p on announcing that it expected to incur extra charges of between £20m and £50m related to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

Serinus Energy gained 7.1% to 9.38p after it announced that it had made the final payment of $2.7m, plus accrued interest, on a secured loan facility provided by EBRD.

Ukraine-focused Regal Petroleum was flat at 32.2p after it booked a 71% fall in first-half profit, owing to it reaping a one-off gain from an impairment reversal in the previous year.

Revenue, however, rose 27% to $31.3m, and gross profit climbed to $13.9m, up from $11.9m.

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