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UK stocks regain some losses by the close but still finish in the red

UK stocks closed weaker on Wednesday as US-China trade tensions continued to simmer and DIY chain Kingfisher slumped on a disappointing trading update.

At 1630, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 58.44 points, or 0.8%, at 7,265.36.

Kingfisher reversed 6.1% to 196p after it revealed a 3.7% drop in third-quarter like-for-like sales amid weakness at its French unit.

Business software company Sage dropped 2.8% to 721.2p as it booked a 9.3% fall in annual profit, dented by higher expenses including staff pay.

Rival software group Micro Focus International jumped 4.9% to £10.9 on announcing that it expected to report annual revenue and adjusted earnings in line with revised guidance provided in August.

Insurance group Aviva shed 3.5% to 403.9p after it said it had streamlined its business to include five operations, while reiterating that talks were underway to sell its Vietnam unit and a joint venture stake in Indonesia.

Water group United Utilities closed flat at 877p despite lifting its dividend 3.2%, having reported an improved first-half underlying earnings performance.

Pub and restaurant group Mitchells & Butlers jumped 4.9% to 468p on the back of a 36% rise in annual profit underpinned by higher like-for-like sales and efficiency gains.

Airport and railway focused retailer SSP fell 4% to 629p, even as it said it would return up to £100m to its shareholders through a share buyback.

The company also announced a 7.8% rise in annual profit for the year through September.

Oil service company Petrofrac gained 1.1% to 400p on announcing that it had agreed to acquire US onshore operations and maintenance specialist W&W Energy Services for an initial $22m, plus performance-based payments.

Petrofrac also announced that it had won contracts and extensions with a combined value of more than $120m.

Thermal processing services company Bodycote added 4.1% to 869p, as it managed to eke out a 1% rise in revenue for the four months through October.

Pawnbroker Ramsdens gained 7.8% to 201p on announcing that it continued to trade in line with its expectations, having noted some recent weakness in its share price.

The company also confirmed that it did not offer unsecured personal loans nor high-cost, short-term credit loans as defined by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Clinical-stage pharmaceutical company Verseon crashed 69.4% to 1.56p after it announced that it planned to cancel the trading of its shares on London's AIM market.