Source - SMW
Continuing Brexit-related pressure on sterling and suggestions the pace of US interest rate hikes might slow helped keep the FTSE 100 in positive territory on Thursday.

By lunchtime the index, which typically benefits from a falling pound due to the overseas bias of its constituents' earnings, was up 0.4% to 7,030.42.

The banks all traded modestly higher, Royal Bank of Scotland rising 0.5% to 221.1p, on last night's news that they all passed the Bank of England's stress tests.  

US futures suggest stocks on Wall Street will return some of yesterday's big gains when trading resumes later. 


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 5.2% higher to £18.18.

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 £42.70.

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 3.7% higher to 526.8p.

Payment services specialist Paypoint sparked 6.4% higher to 845.5p 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 0.2% to 220.5p.


OptiBiotix Health rose 4.5% to 97.7p on an exclusive license deal allowing Nutrilinea to produce, package, and supply SlimBiome Medical in Europe.