UK stocks erased their early gains to trade higher mid-morning with the FTSE 100 index up 0.3% to 7,233.

Leading the market were defensive stocks including British American Tobacco (BATS) up 1.5%% to £27.07, Imperial Brands (IMB) up 1.1% to £18.70 and Centrica (CNA) up 1.3% to 74p.

A positive third quarter trading update from copper producer Antofagasta (ANTO) sent its shares up 1% to 867p, lifting other mining stocks such as Anglo American (AAL), up 1.7% to £19.93, in its wake.

Shares in Rio Tinto (RIO) also gained, up 1.5% to £40.89 after it announced that it would review its interest in New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter ‘to determine the operation’s ongoing viability and competitive position’.

Large-cap losers included house-builders Barratt Developments (BDEV) down 1.4% to 659p, Berkeley Group (BKG) down 1.5% to £44.73 and Persimmon (PSN) down 1.7% to £23.54 as last night’s parliamentary stalemate failed to quell concerns over the Brexit process.

Among mid- and smaller-cap stocks, newly-listed fund management group Quilter (QLT) slipped 1.9% to 141p after it reported a £0.5bn net outflow of funds from its fund management and platform business in the three months to 30 September.

In a characteristically outspoken statement, Sports Direct (SPD) launched into Goals Soccer Centres after the latter claimed it had provided all the information it needed and ‘hadn’t frustrated (Sports Direct) in any way from making an offer for the business’. Shares in Sports Direct eased 0.4% to 319p.

Information technology reseller Softcat (SCT) fell 3% to 913p despite posting a 24% increase in full year revenues to £992m and a similar increase in operating profits to £84.5m, along with a special dividend of 16p per share.

Shares in housebuilding services specialist Nexus Infrastructure (NEXS:AIM) skipped 5.3% higher to 140p on Wednesday as investors responded to a reassuring trading update and news of a bulging order book.

Like many industry suppliers, Nexus is experiencing caution in its markets due to Brexit anxieties. Yet the cashed-up small cap is on track to meet full year profit forecasts, and issued a confident outlook statement saying it is ‘encouraged by the level of growth’ in its order book

For a full list of FTSE 100 and 250 movers click here


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Issue Date: 23 Oct 2019