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UK stocks open 0.2% lower as AstraZeneca disappoints

UK stocks opened weaker on Friday as drugs giant AstraZeneca posted disappointing earnings results and the pound strengthened slightly against the dollar.

At 0859, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 14.07 points, or 0.2%, at 7.773.90 on what was a relatively quiet day for company announcements.

AstraZeneca fell 1.7% after declining sales of heart-disease treatment Crestor contributed to a 36% slump in first-quarter profit.

Beleaguered flooring retailer Carpetright gained 9.0% after it launched a £60m discounted share offering as part of a turnround plan approved by its creditors last month.

Lloyds Banking Group, meanwhile, said it had agreed to sell its Irish residential mortgage portfolio to Barclays for around £4bn, generating a loss of around £110m. Its shares gained 0.2%.

Mining house Rio Tinto said authorities had approved the use of driverless trains at its iron ore operations in Western Australia state--a move it said would cut costs. Its shares weakened by 0.5%.

Airline cargo handling and logistics group John Menzies said it continued to trade ahead of last year, though a proposed sale of its distribution business was taking longer than expected. Its shares lost 0.6%.

Oil service group Petrofac gained 1.3% on the back of news that it had been awarded more than $1.7bn of new orders in the year to date.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals reiterated its full-year guidance as its injectables, generics and branded businesses benefited from new product launches. Its shares shed 0.4%.

Homewares distributor Dunelm Group appointed current Compass Group financial controller Laura Carr as its new chief financial officer. The shares fell 0.6%. Story provided by