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30 Oct 2019 | 12:20

UK markets claw modest gains as investors turn attention to 12 December election

UK stocks staged the most modest of rebounds in midday trading, nudging barely 5 points into positive territory to reverse the slim losses of early Wednesday trade.

A mixed bag of corporate results and updates are being largely overlooked by investors who are now concentrating on the UK parliament's approved for a general elections on 12 December. Investors will also be braced for the latest Fed decision on US interest rates.

At 12.10, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 5.03 points at 7,311.35.


Standard Chartered topped the FTSE 100 leader board, up 2.7% to 714.2p after the bank posted a 16% rise in third-quarter underlying profit, driven by an especially strong performance at its corporate and private banking divisions.

Going the other way is clothing retailer Next. Its shares headed the FTSE 100 losers list, down 3.2% to £66.34, even as it posted 2% growth in third-quarter full-price sales and stuck to its annual profit guidance.

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa firmed 1% to £25.70 as its operating earnings for the first nine months of the year grew 11%, buoyed by stronger sales volumes and margins.

Computer services provider Computacenter rallied 5% to £13.29 on announcing that its revenue and profit in the third quarter were 'well ahead' on-year.

AstraZeneca rose 1% to £74.72 after it agreed to sell and licence the commercial rights to its schizophrenia and bipolar drugs in Europe and Russia to Cheplapharm.

Medical products and technologies company ConvaTec jumped 10% to 201.4p, having reported 4.6% organic revenue growth in the third quarter, limited to 2.4% on a reported basis due to currency moves.

Water utility Severn Trent edged back 0.2% to £22.39 on announcing that it had appointed Christine Hodgson as its new chairman to replace Andrew Duff when he retires in April.

Hodgson was currently executive chair of Capgemini UK and a senior independent director of Standard Chartered.

SMALLER COMPANIES Banknote authentication group De La Rue crashed 20% to 150.8p, as it warned that its adjusted profit would be 'significantly lower' than market expectations.

Surveillance systems supplier Synectics tumbled 21% to 141p, as it warned of annual results 'materially below' market expectations.

Petra Diamonds fell 0.7% to 7.61p after millions of tonnes of material collapsed into the open pit of the Cullinan mine in South Africa following a thunderstorm.

Mining in the open pit at Cullinan was discontinued more than 50 years ago, with all current mining operations now underground, and Petra said the incident was not anticipated to have a material impact on production.

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