FTSE closes higher as investors await US-China trade signing

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The FTSE 100 closed modestly higher on Wednesday ahead of the signing of phase one of the US-China trade deal.

Helping the exporter-heavy index was a fall in the pound against the euro, though the currency fared better against the dollar.

It came after UK inflation dropped to a three-year low of 1.3% last month, raising the prospect of an interest rate cut by the Bank of England on 30 January.

The UK's benchmark index closed 20.45 points, or 0.27%, up at 7,642.80.

LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

House builder Persimmon firmed 0.39% to £28.07, despite its annual revenue falling 2.4%, as the company curbed its rate of home completions to improve customer service and build quality.

Vistry, the house builder formally known as Bovis Homes, dipped 2.9% to £13.03 despite announcing that it expected to deliver record annual profits slightly ahead of market consensus.

Technical products supplier Diploma was having a tougher day, reversing 2.84% to £18.47, despite its first-quarter revenue rising 9% on-year.

Strong growth at Diploma's seals sector was offset by a more subdued performance at its life sciences business.

Tullow Oil plunged 15.51% to 50p as it foreshadowed impairment charges and exploration write-offs of around $1.5bn, after it lowered its oil price assumptions and reserves estimates.

The company also stuck to its recently-downgraded production and cash flow forecasts.

Rival oil company Cairn Energy gained 0.61% to 196.6p as it and joint venture partners Woodside and FAR made a final investment decision to develop the Sangomar oil field in Senegal.

Power utility SSE rose 1.92% to £14.86 having completed the sale of its retail unit to OVO Energy, for £500m including debt, following receipt of regulatory approvals.

Precious metals miner Hochschild gained 2.68% to 168.5p after it beat its annual production forecast, following stronger-than-expected output in the final quarter.

Emerging markets fund manager Ashmore firmed 0.8% to 551.39p after its assets under management was boosted in the fourth quarter by positive investment returns and fresh fund inflows.

Builders merchant Travis Perkins traded flat at £16.19 as it appointed Christopher Rogers as chairman designate of soon-to-be separated DIY chain Wickes.

Subprime lender Provident Financial gained 5.3% to 444p on flagging full-year results in line with market forecasts, as a better-than-expected performance at its Vanquis Bank unit offset a weaker showing at Moneybarn.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Online fashion retailer Quiz slumped 17.4% to 15.5p as its sales dropped 9.3% over the crucial Christmas trading period.

Bowling alley operator Ten Entertainment added 0.32% to 311p on growing its annual sales by 10.2% after refurbishing some of its sites.

Legal and professional services firm Ince plunged 48.31% to 46p after it launched a cash call at a huge discount to the prevailing price, looking for up to £16m at 45p per share to slash debt and bolster working capital resources.