UK stocks opened lower on Friday as a strengthening pound put pressure on exporters. The pound was expected to remain volatile as Britain's Supreme Court continued to deliberate on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recent proroguing of parliament was unlawful. At 0851, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 17.97 points, or 0.2%, at 7.338.45. Royal Bank of Scotland added 1.6% to 211.3p after the lender announced that it had appointed the current head of its commercial and private banking business, Alison Rose, as its new chief executive. Rose, who was also deputy chief of Natwest, would assume the role on 1 November after Ross McEwan formally stood down. Engineering company Rolls-Royce shed 2.2% to 791.8p as it revealed deeper disruptions caused by a fault in its Trent 1000 commercial aircraft engines. Industrial and medical products supplier Smiths rose 0.2% to 1,644.5p after it booked a 19% rise in adjusted annual profit. The rise included an improvement during the second half in the company's medical division, which it still expected to spin off in the first half of 2020. Power utility SSE edged up 1p to 1,237 as it confirmed that two of its offshore wind farm ventures -- Seagreen and Dogger Bank -- had won subsidy support in a government auction round. Portfolio analysis software provider StatPro soared 52% to 226p on the back of news that it had agreed to a £161.1m takeover bid from US-based Confluence Technologies, pitched at 230p per share. Struggling travel company Thomas Cook fell 17% to 3.7p after it confirmed media speculation that it was pursing an additional £200m of funding to save a planned recapitalisation deal with stakeholders including China's Fosun and its lenders. Matress retailer Eve Sleep slumped 31% to 3.39p after it announced that early-stage merger talks with Simba Sleep had been called off.
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