FTSE 100 struggles as pound rebounds

Sterling bounced back from Thursday's underwhelming performance, although this was bad news for the FTSE 100, which traded 0.3% lower at 7,534 around midday.

Approximately 70% of the FTSE's constituents derive earnings overseas, meaning a stronger pound can have a negative impact.

Among the biggest fallers was British Gas owner Centrica (CNA), down 1.2% at 176.8p.

Miners were in demand this morning thanks to positive data from China, which revealed imports grew by 18.7%, up from 13.3% in August. Glencore (GLEN) and BHP Billiton (BLT) are up 1.1% and 1% to 372p and £13.88.

Brent crude oil rallied 2.2% to $57.51 per barrel. Gold and copper were flat at $1,291 per ounce and $3.10 per pound.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

TV and entertainment stocks were in focus on Wall Street after AT&T revealed it lost 90,000 customers over the last quarter. This raised fears that people were choosing streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon over traditional cable.

The S&P 500 closed 0.2% lower at 2,550 overnight.

Asian equities were flat this morning with the exception of Japan's Nikkei 225, which rallied 1% to 21,155.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Investors were relieved that Provident Financial (PFG) did not issue yet another profit warning, although the lender confirmed it would not pay a final dividend.

In a spot of good news, the company revealed an improvement in collection rates for doorstop loans and the return of Chris Gillespie to run the home credit business after a four-year hiatus, helping its shares rally 10.3% to 870.5p.

Engineer GKN (GKN) tumbled 7.9% to 324.9p after warning profits would only be slightly above last year. The company said it was likely to rack up a £40m charge in the fourth quarter as it faced two 'significant external claims' and noted its US aerospace business had faced a challenging period.

Insurance group Aviva (AV.) agreed to sell its entire 49% stake in its joint venture in Taiwan to partner First Financial Holdings. The stock was unmoved at 500.7p.

Asset manager Ashmore (ASHM) impressed the market with an 11% jump in assets under management to approximately $65bn in the third quarter, causing the shares to surge 7% to 378.2p.

Shares in fund manager Man Group (EMG) were lifted 3.9% to 187p after its funds under management rose 28% year-to-date, driven by third-quarter net inflows of $2.8bn.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ) enjoyed a 19% boost in gold production in the third quarter to 30 September and also cut its net debt from $25.2m as of 30 June. Shares in the miner advanced 8.4% to 34.1p on the update.

JKX Oil & Gas (JKX) slumped 13.2% to 12.1p after oil production declined 14.9% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2017.

Biotech firm Premaitha Health (NIPT) secured three new laboratories in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Despite the good news, the stock dipped to 7.3p.