The FTSE 100 failed to pick up the feel-good vibe from positive trading in the US and Asia as the index traded a handful of points lower at 7,236.25.

Although they didn’t emerge until 9.30am, results from Prudential (PRU) were apparently worth the wait for investors, the shares marked 2.2% higher to £15.28.

The first half numbers showed a 14% increase in profit and there was also an update that the demerger of M&G Prudential would go through in the fourth quarter.

Sports apparel and equipment retailer Sports Direct (SPD) reversed 4% after revealing that Grant Thornton had resigned as its auditor following 'a review of its client portfolio'.

Construction company Balfour Beatty (BBY) rallied 12% to 225.36p as a cost-cutting drive helped it boost its first-half profit and hike its dividend by 31%.

Transport company FirstGroup advanced 1.2% to 116.4p on the back of news that it won a UK tender to take over the West Coast train line, replacing Virgin Trains.

Wealth manager Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) fell 0.4% to 249.4p, despite announcing that it had sold down a further 3.3% stake in Indian insurer HDFC Life for £374m, lowering its holding to about 19.7%.

Motor insurer Admiral (ADM) gained 4.5% to £21.24 as it reported a 4% increase in first half profit despite a hit relating to the way compensation awards are calculated.

AstraZeneca (AZN) rose 0.5% to 7,379.96p after reporting positive clinical trial results for an ovarian cancer treatment developed with Merck, and, separately, the granting of a US breakthrough therapy designation for a leukaemia drug.

Payments company Network International (NETW), which listed in April, added 1.0% to 601p despite its first-half profit halving thanks to one-off expenses related to staff remuneration and listing charges.

The company, however, also boosted underlying earnings as customer wins helped boost sales 12%.

Property investor CLS Holdings (CLS) gained 1.9% to 226.25p as it saw first-half profits rise by more than a quarter, following an increase in rental income and portfolio valuation gains.

Cybersecurity company Avast (AVST) jumped 9% to 357.2p after upgrading its profit guidance for the year.

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Issue Date: 14 Aug 2019