Source - SMW
UK equities followed Wall Street higher after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said he may consider pausing interest rate hikes in 2019.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.8% to 7,060 as investors focused on the news instead of the Bank of England's warning that a no-deal Brexit could sink the UK into recession.

Brent crude oil dropped 1.3% to $58 per barrel. 


Real estate investment trust Intu Properties crashed 36.6% to 122p after a consortium backed by Peel Group, Olayan and Brookfield Property walked away from a £2.9bn deal to take the company private.

Shares in miner Rio Tinto climbed 1.6% to £36.22 after revealing it will develop its most technologically advanced mine after the approval of a $2.6bn investment in the Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australia.

Equipment rental giant Ashtead announced Geoff Drabble will step down as chief executive on 1 May, and retire from the group on 30 November 2019. Investors marked the shares 2.8% higher to £17.76.

At consumer goods colossus Unilever, there was also change at the top after CEO Paul Polman announced his retirement from the company, leaving the stock broadly unmoved at £42.86.

Pub operator Greene King reported Christmas bookings were well ahead of last year with first-half profits rising thanks to a 'strong' performance in Pub Company and Brewing & Brands. Shares in Greene King fizzed 5.4% higher to 535p.

Payment services specialist Paypoint sparked 4.5% to 831p after pre-tax profit increased 4% to £25.2m in the six months to 30 September, partially driven by an improvement in VAT recovery.

Used car marketplace BCA Marketplace revealed more vehicles sales at higher prices helped pre-tax profit accelerate 30.9% to £45.7.9m in the half year to 30 September. Despite the good news, the shares reversed 2.9% to 214.5p.


OptiBiotix Health rose 2.1% to 95.5p on an exclusive license deal allowing Nutrilinea to produce, package, and supply SlimBiome Medical in Europe.