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FTSE rises as sterling falls on weak UK growth data

UK economic growth slowed in December, prompting a fall in sterling, which was a catalyst the FTSE 100 as it boosts the relative value of its constituents' largely overseas earnings. The FTSE closed up 0.8% at 7,129.

European equities were also on a roll with Germany's DAX rising 1% to 11,014.

With little news on US-China trade war talks, Wall Street was subdued with the Dow Jones dipping 0.2% to 25,063 at around 5pm UK time.

Brent crude oil declined 1.3% to $61.30 per barrel.


Takeaways platform Just Eat gained 3.8% to 730.8p as hedge fund Cat Rock Capital, a 1.7% shareholder in the group, called for the company to enter merger talks with an industry peer.

Mike Ashley's Sports Direct advanced 0.8% to 272.6p as it apparently cans a bid (made on Friday night) for collapsed cafe chain Patisserie Valerie.

Shares in Smith & Nephew fell 3% to £14.69 on reports it is in talks to buy NuVasive in an estimated $3bn deal.

According to reports, the Competition and Markets Authority extended the deadline for a decision on the proposed merger between Sainsbury's and Asda. Shares in Sainsbury's were up 0.7% at 293.9p.

Gold miner Acacia Mining fell 1.2% to 189.8p, despite swinging to an annual profit, as it forecast a broadly flat production performance in 2019.

Polymetal International rose 0.3% to 848.6p after it gave a green light to its Pox-2 gold project in Russia following completion of a feasibility study.


Consumer goods group UP Global Sourcing, also known as Ultimate Products, rallied 10.3% as it forecast annual earnings ahead of current market expectations thanks to a jump in sales.

Self-storage group Lok'nStore climbed 5.3% as it boosted its first-half revenue by 7.7%.

Residential property developer Telford Homes rose 1.3% after it exchanged contracts to acquire a site in Stratford, London for £20m.

OptiBiotix Health gained 7.8% to 90p after subsidiary ProBiotix Health appointed EIWA Trading as the exclusive distributor of its cholesterol and blood pressure-reducing probiotic product in Japan.

Gambling group Stride Gaming sparked 7.2% higher to 111p on revealing that it was considering strategic options, including a potential sale of the company.

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