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UK stocks open 0.3% higher as Italy debt fears cool

UK stocks opened higher on Wednesday after an Italian media report indicated the country's government would temper its spending plans.

At 0855, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 20.11 points, or 0.3%, at 7.494.66.

Supermarket giant Tesco dropped 6.4% as growing sales and profits nevertheless missed market expectations.

Tesco's bottom line profit growth was limited to 2.0% by one-off restructuring and store closure costs, though its underlying operating earnings jumped 24% and it lifted its interim dividend to 1.67p, up from 1.0p.

Luxury carmaker Aston Martin made a disappointing debut, falling 4.2% below its £19 IPO price, which was at the bottom end of an indicative range.

Flooring retailer Topps Tiles rallied 11% on news it expected to post a full-year profit ahead of market expectations, after like-for-like sales improved in its fiscal fourth quarter.

Vodafone gained 1.3% after its Italian unit acquired spectrum for the deployment of new 5G technology for €2.4bn.

Events organiser ITE Group dropped 6.8% as it agreed to acquire the Mining Indaba fixture from Euromoney Institutional Investor for £30.1m.

ITE also said it expected its 2018 annual like-for-like revenue to grow 10%, though current movements would impact profits in 2019.

Pawn broker Ramsdens jumped 5.2% on news it expected its jewellery business to deliver double-digit sales growth in the first half.

OptiBiotix Health said it had entered into a non-exclusive agreement with Formulation Creations to distribute its weight management technology in South Africa. Its shares added 0.4%.

The Gym Group said it had appointed former Auotrader deputy CFO Mark George as its new chief bean counter. Its shares fell 0.2%.

Premier African Minerals fell 5.1% after it said drilling results obtained at the western end of its RHA tungest mine in Zimbabwe did not support a continuation of mining with the current plant configuration.

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