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UK stocks open 0.7% firmer ahead of key US inflation data

UK stocks opened higher on Wednesday, following a strong lead from Wall Street, as investors braced for US inflation data that could set the tone for the timing and magnitude of interest-rate rises.

At 0857 GMT, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 47.51 points, or 0.7%, at 7,215.52.

Construction group Galliford Try tumbled 18% on news it planned to raise £150m to cover cost over-runs at a road joint venture in Scotland with collapsed counterpart Cerillion.

Serco Group, meanwhile, said it had signed a revised agreement for its acquisition of UK health facilities from Carillion. Its shares gained 1.7%.

Sky rallied 3.1% after the broadcaster secured rights to screen English Premier League football games out to 2022 at a cheaper-than-expected rate of £1.91bn, dousing fears competition with the likes of Amazon would push bid prices higher.

BT Group confirmed that it would also continue to show Premier League matches, paying £295m per season for 32 games. Its shares gained 0.7%.

Coca-Cola HBC sparkled 3.6% after the soft-drink bottler's net profit jumped 24% and it hiked its dividend amid solid volume growth and margin expansion in most of its geographic markets.

Engineering group GKN said it planed to return up to £2.5bn to shareholders over the next three years, as it tries to fight off a £7bn hostile takeover bid from Melrose Industries. GKN shares gained 0.4%.

Sirius Minerals gained 1.7% after announcing that it had signed up an alternative contractor for construction work at its polyhalite project in North Yorkshire after ending protracted talks with another contractor.

Spirax-Sarco Engineering said chairman Bill Whiteley would retire after the company's annual general meeting in May, having served in the role for nine years. Its shares eased 0.1%. Story provided by