Source - SMW
The FTSE 100 bounced back from Wednesday's fall as the pound eased back against the dollar.

Among the risers were Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) and Vodafone (VOD).

The blue-chip index was up 5.8 points at 7,649 around midday.

Brent crude oil rose 0.5% to $70.88 per barrel following a DNV survey that more oil and gas firms were expected to increase capital spending


In the US, stock markets eased back on previous gains with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 barely moving overnight. The Nasdaq fell 0.6% to 7,415.


Pay-TV business Sky (SKY), currently in a protracted bid situation with 21st Century Fox, ticked 1% higher to £10.33 on a 5% increase in first half sales to £6.7bn and a jump in new customers.

Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group (RTN) revealed it expects to meet profit expectations despite a 3% fall in like-for-like sales. The stock nudged 0.8% higher to 266.6p. 

Investors were reassured by construction firm Kier's (KIE) trading update after the collapse of Carillion (CLLN) last week. The stock soared 17.6% to £11.25.

Bad weather continued to affect pub operators with Greene King (GNK) the latest to report a drag on performance. It revealed slower sales around the Christmas period due to tough trading and the impact of snow and ice.Its shares were broadly unmoved at 528.7p.

Spreadbetter CMC Markets (CMCX) gained 2.3% to 161.6p, driven by a 33% increase in revenue in the third quarter to 31 December after the company focused on high value clients.

Two planned acquisitions from Dechra Pharmaceuticals (DPH) provided its shares with a 8% shot in the arm to £22.28. The veterinary firm said it plans to buy Netherlands-based AST Farma and Le Vet, based in Europe.

Spirits specialist Diageo (DGE) revealed a 1.7% rise in half year sales, blaming foreign exchange rates, a later Chinese New Year and a ban on selling alcohol near Indian highways for the subdued growth. The shares advanced 1% to £25.67.

Great Portland Estate (GPOR) announced it would return £306m to shareholders, pushing the shares 1.7% higher to 659p.


Online fashion retailer ASOS (ASC) smashed sales growth expectations over Christmas, but this was already priced in by the market and the shares were only up 1.9% at £70.06.

London-focused estate agent Foxtons (FOXT) warned that profits will slide this year on the back of expected flat house price growth and a challenging trading environment. The company also reported a fall in core sales last year, but investors took the news in their stride with the stock up 4.9% at 77.5p.

Top-level domains owner Minds + Machines (MMX) rallied 20.5% to 9.7p on expectations that its full year earnings will beat expectations.