(Adds company news items and futures.)
* MOSS BROS: Moss Bros Group Plc MOSB.L expects to report an annual pretax loss, as the British suit retailer was hurt by fewer customers visiting its stores and it was forced to deeply discount products to attract customers. N BROWN: Plus-sized fashion retailer N Brown Group BWNG.L said it expects annual adjusted profit to be below consensus estimates, hurt by poor performance at its financial services unit and more discounting in the market. PEARSON: Britain's Pearson PSON.L said its revenue would be flat in 2019, while operating profit would be around 590 million pounds ($769 million), just short of market consensus, as weaker sales in US Higher Education offset a better performance elsewhere. GENEL: London-listed oil and gas producer Genel GENL.L said it expected free cash flow of around $100 million in 2020 would underpin planned growth in dividends, despite delayed payments from authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan. HAYS: UK-based recruitment firm Hays Plc HAYS.L warned of lower first-half operating profit, as it struggled with a hiring squeeze in some of its largest markets including UK, France and Australia in December that slowed net fee growth. WHITBREAD: Whitbread WTB.L reported a 1.3% drop in UK like-for-like sales in the third quarter as Britons delayed travel plans amid Brexit uncertainty, and the Premier Inn owner took a cautious approach to hotel demand for the next fiscal year. JOHN WOOD GROUP: Oilfield services provider John Wood Group Plc WG.L expects higher core earnings in 2019, with strong performance in its engineering services unit in the Middle East, Asia and the Caspian region offseting slowing U.S. onshore drilling demand. ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS: Associated British Foods ABF.L kept its full year earnings outlook on Thursday, partly due to solid revenue growth at its Primark fashion chain in the key Christmas trading period. GOLD: Gold prices held steady after the United States and China signed a preliminary trade deal, as investors worried that a number of sore issues remained unresolved between the world's two top economies. OIL: Oil prices rose after the signing of the trade deal that sets the stage for a surge in Chinese purchases of American energy products, while U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected. METAL: Copper prices fell on investor doubts that the U.S.-China deal would improve metals demand. EX-DIVS: Ashtead Group AHT.L , Compass Group CPG.L and SSE Plc SSE.L will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 2.8 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations
* London's main share index rose slightly on Wednesday, hours before the sealing of the U.S.-China trade deal, though sentiment was tempered when Washington said tariffs on Chinese goods would not be rolled back immediately. UK PAPERS
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