Better than expected UK economic figures put a shine on UK-facing large caps including utilities, retailers and banks. The FTSE 100 advanced 30 points in late morning trading to 7,646. The UK economy grew 0.5% in the last three months of 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics. This beat economists' expectations of 0.4% growth and spurred a 0.8% increase in the pound to $1.4256. Positivity about the UK helped to lift retailer Next (NXT) by 1.7% to £51.48. Supermarket Tesco (TSCO) was another beneficiary, trading 1.1% higher at 212p. Among financial stocks, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) nudged up 1.1% to 302.3p. A broker upgrade for National Grid (NG.) sparked a share price jump of 1.6% to 804p. Other utility stocks also fared well. SSE (SSE) advanced 1.5% to £12.81; and United Utilities (UU.) traded 1% higher at 747.5p. Brent crude oil was stable at $70.53 per barrel. Gold cheapened 0.8% to $1,351 per ounce and copper was unmoved at $3.20 per pound. MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Drugs colossus AstraZeneca (AZN) got a 1.1% shot in the arm to £50.53 after a Phase III trial revealed its chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatment improved its patients' conditions. Instrumentation provider Spectris (SXS) completed the acquisition of drug developer Concept Life Sciences for £163m to add test service capabilities to its materials analysis segment. Shares in Spectris rose 1.1% to £26. SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS MayAir (MAYA) flew 22.9% to 118p after receiving a £50m takeover offer from Poly Glorious. Scientific Digital Imaging (SDI) rallied 16.5% to 30.2p on the back of improving margins and earnings in the year to 31 December 2017. Leisure group EasyHotel (EZH) acquired a property in Milton Keynes where it plans to build a 14-room hotel for £8.7m. The stock retreated 0.9% to 107p on the news.
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