UK stocks opened slightly lower on Wednesday as markets digested news of the first UK December general election since 1923.

The FTSE 100 index of leading stocks was down 14 points or 0.2% to 7,293 while the FTSE 250 was down 36 points or 0.2% to 20,131.

Healthcare, Food producers and beverages were leading the market while general retailers, Oil services and mining stocks were showing weakness.

Bank note maker De La Rue (DLAR) warned that operating profits for the first half ended 28 September would be low-to-mid-single-digit millions, leading to the full year profit being ‘significantly lower than market expectations’, sending the shares 19% lower to 149.8p.

The warning comes just months after the company said operating profit would be ‘somewhat lower’ than the prior year.

Clothing retailer Next (NXT) reported third-quarter sales up 2%, slightly higher than guidance given in September. Its shares traded 2% lower at £67.03.

The group said it believed that strong sales in July pulled forward sales from August. While sales in September were adversely affected by warm weather, it saw a significant improvement in October with sales up 5% year-on-year as temperatures fell.

However the company commented that while improved sales growth in October 'recouped some of the lost sales in September, we do not expect sales growth for the rest of the year to be as strong as October’.

On the rise was emerging market-focused banking group Standard Chartered (STAN) which posted a 4% improvement in third-quarter operating profit driven by a strong performance of its corporate and private banking divisions, lifting shares by 2.7% to 713.4p.

Leading the FTSE 250 names was medical products and technologies company ConvaTec (CTEC), whose shares stormed 7% higher to 195.6p after it reported better than expected organic revenue growth of 4.6% in the third-quarter of the year.

Revenues for the three months to 30 September 2019 were $462.9m, in part reflecting the benefits of short-term tailwinds, the company said.

The company left its outlook unchanged and said its transformation initiative remained on track.

Shares in packaging company Smurfit Kappa (SKG) were 2% higher at £25.88 after it reported an 11% rise in operating earnings for the first-nine months of the year to 30 September and said that its key metrics were at or above its targets.

Shares in technology services and consulting company Computercenter (CCC) climbed 5% higher to £13.29 on strong third-quarter results. The company said revenues and profits in the third quarter were 'well ahead' year-on-year, as positive momentum seen in the first half continued throughout the quarter.

A full list of all the FTSE 250 risers and fallers can be found here

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Issue Date: 30 Oct 2019