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FTSE 100 Drifts Lower On Weak Earnings

U.K. stocks fell slightly on Thursday as weak earnings updates from the likes of
Pearson, Whitbread and Hays offset investor optimism over a trade truce between the world's two largest economies.

The benchmark FTSE 100 was down 20 points, or 0.26 percent, at 7,623 after rising 0.3 percent the previous day.

Recruiter Hays tumbled 3.8 percent after warning that first-half profits will fall around 19 percent.

Pearson plunged more than 10 percent. The publication and education company expects profits to fall next year amid another drop in demand for U.S. college textbooks.

Restaurant company Whitbread lost 4.3 percent after saying it would continue to be hit by economic uncertainty and higher costs in the U.K.

Inchcape rose 0.6 percent. The multi-brand automotive distributor and retailer has agreed to acquire German automaker Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz passenger car and private vans distribution operations in Colombia.

Associated British Foods rallied 2.7 percent after its Group revenue from continuing operations for the 16 weeks ended 4 January 2020 rose 4 percent from last year.

Shares of Rank Group surged 4.8 percent. The Casinos and gaming company said it now expects fiscal 2020 underlying operating profit pre IFRS16 to be above current market expectations.

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