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15 Oct 2019 | 13:02

UK stocks drift lower ahead of key US banking results

UK stocks drifted lower at midday on Tuesday as investors braced for the outcome of crucial Brexit and US-China trade negotiations taking place separately this week as well as bank earnings in the US today.

At 1252, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 19.58 points, or 0.27%, at 7,193.87.

Homebuilder Bellway fell 5.58% to £32.97, even as reported a 3.4% rise in annual profit buoyed by higher unit sales and house prices.

The company, however, warned of margin pressure in the current financial year amid a rise in costs.

Recruitment company Hays gained 5.15% to 151.1p after it eked out a 1% rise in first-quarter net fee revenue thanks to a strong showing in the US and Asia.

Pub company Marston's dropped 6.15% to 114.5p as it warned of a fall in annual underlying profit and a flat result for the current financial year owing to increased spending on its properties.

Drug company Indivior rallied 7.05% to 52.87p on upgrading its full-year profit outlook, as sales of its opioid addiction treatment fared better than expected despite competition from generics.

Molten metal flow engineering and technology group Vesuvius shed 17.15% to 345p, as it warned of a fall in annual earnings amid a challenging trading environment.

Bingo company Rank rose 5.63% to 210p on announcing that its net gaming revenue rose 9% in the first quarter, led by strong sales at its Grosvenor casino business.

Metrology and healthcare technology group Renishaw slid 7.1% to 3,308p as its profits fell sharply in the first quarter, due to lower order numbers and a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Patent law firm Murgitroyd fell 5.19% to 640p, as it confirmed that it was was in advanced discussions regarding a potential takeover of the company by Sovereign Capital Partners, pitched at 675p per share.

The company's share price had already rallied previously in anticipation of a deal.

Consultancy firm Science Group added 0.8% to 194p, despite warning that the annual performance at recently-acquired business Frontier Smart Technologies would be lower than it had expected.

Luxury furniture and interior design company Walker Greenbank firmed 0.3% to 74.7, as it booked a 10% fall in first-half profit owing one-off acquisition and restructuring costs.

Sales and underlying profit both rose, though the company cut its dividend.

Building services provider Northern Bear gained 2.75% to 70.9p, even as it warned of a fall in first-half earnings.

The company, however, also said it experiencing improved trading conditions in the second quarter.

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