FTSE sees modest rise on solid company news

Stocks have moved higher this morning following heavy selling in the US and Asia overnight, but markets remain under pressure over fears of a global recession.

Positive trading updates from a number of companies have given UK shares a modest lift this morning after yesterday's 189-point slump.

But in a warning sign that investor sentiment is still weak, the price of gold has shot to a new record, breaking $1,920 per ounce this morning.

Chinese policymakers have said they fear the economy will grow at less than nine per cent next year as the global economy stagnates.

Japan's Nikkei index closed more than four per cent lower while the S&P 500 ended 2.5 per cent down.

Whitbread tops the risers, up 8.2 per cent after reporting accelerating sales growth in the first half of the year, driven by demand for Costa Coffee and Premier Inn hotels.

Financial stocks have regained some ground, with Lloyds 2.9 per cent higher and RBS up 2.4 per cent.

Alongside the banks, private equity giant 3i is also up 4.4 per cent and wealth manager Hargreaves Lansdown is 2.5 per cent higher.

Building supplies group Wolseley is also among the top risers, gaining 3.1 per cent.

Miners, which also suffered from yesterday's risk aversion, are adding their weight to the upside today. Glencore has gained 3.3 per cent and Xstrata is 2.8 per cent higher.

The return to market has left defensive stocks nursing small declines, with support services group Capita falling furthest, down 0.9 per cent.

Peers Serco and G4S are also each about 0.5 per cent lower.

Retailer Marks & Spencer is off by 0.7 per cent while chipmaker ARM Holdings has lost about 0.6 per cent.

Engineers GKN and IMI are also seeing slight declines.

Among smaller caps, industrial equipment rental group Ashtead has leapt 15.2 per cent after posting a profit hike and raising its full-year profit forecasts.

Economic data likely to affect markets later today are German factory orders and the US Institute of Supply Management non-manufacturing index report, published this afternoon.