(Alliance News) - The FTSE 100 in London was down at midday on Thursday, despite getting a boost from oil stocks.

The FTSE 100 index was down 10.71 points, 0.1%, at 7,458.80. The FTSE 250 was down 105.80 points, 0.6%, at 18,374.37, and the AIM All-Share was down 0.55 of a point, 0.1%, at 716.35.

The Cboe UK 100 was down 0.1% at 744.43, the Cboe UK 250 was down 0.5% at 15,882.91, and the Cboe Small Companies was down 0.4% at 13,487.41.

In European equities on Thursday, the CAC 40 in Paris and the DAX 40 in Frankfurt were both up 0.2%.

Ofgem announced it is raising its price cap from the current GBP1,834 for a typical dual fuel household to GBP1,928 from January 1, driven almost entirely by rising costs in the international wholesale energy market due to market instability and global events, particularly the conflict in Ukraine.

"It's a timely reminder that inflation might be falling but some prices are still rising," said AJ Bell's Danni Hewson.

"For households still trying to work out what yesterday's Autumn Statement means for their finances, the news their energy bills are going up once again from January will be a bitter pill to swallow."

Overnight, oil prices recovered to above the USD81 mark, after falling as a key ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies was pushed back from Sunday to November 30.

The Vienna-based organisation announced the postponement of the OPEC+ alliance gathering in a brief statement, without providing any explanation.

Brent oil was quoted at USD81.06 a barrel at midday in London on Thursday from USD79.36 late Wednesday.

On the back of the new oil majors BP and Shell were up 1.3% and 0.6%, respectively.

In other news, there was a slew of PMI readings Thursday morning.

The S&P Global/CIPS flash UK flash composite purchasing managers' index rose to 50.1 points in November, from 48.7 in October. This marked a four-month-high and represents growth, edging above the no-change 50.0 mark.

The flash services PMI business activity index jumped to a four month high, registering 50.05 in November from 49.5 in October. Meanwhile, the flash manufacturing PMI rose to 47.9 from 44.3.

Tim Moore, economics director at S&P, commented: "The UK economy found its feet again in November as the service sector arrested a three-month sequence of decline and manufacturers began to report less severe cutbacks to production schedules."

Business activity in the eurozone continued to contract in November, preliminary survey data showed on Thursday, however.

The HCOB flash eurozone composite PMI edged up slightly to 47.1 points in November from 46.5 in October.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.2547 midday Thursday, lower than USD1.2458 at the London equities close on Wednesday. The euro traded at USD1.0918, higher than USD1.0864. Against the yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY149.23, down versus JPY149.72.

In the FTSE 100, Intertek rose 2.9%.

The quality assurance service provider confirmed its annual outlook as it updated on its year-to-date trading.

In 2023 so far, it said revenue grew 8.3% in constant currency, or 5.1% at actual rates. Constant currency growth was led by strong performances in Corporate Assurance, Health & Safety, Industry & Infrastructure and World of Energy, which helped to offset only a slight rise in Consumer Products.

It maintains its outlook for mid-single digit like-for-like revenue growth at constant currency, and still expects margin progression and "strong" free cash flow.

In the FTSE 250, FirstGroup was down 4.8%.

The Aberdeen-based transport company swung to a pretax loss of GBP68.5 million in the six months to September 30 from a profit of GBP37.0 million a year ago, due to a GBP142.3 million pension charge.

Revenue dipped to GBP2.21 billion from GBP2.22 billion the year prior, but the company credited its First Bus business, which saw revenue soar by 77% to GBP504.9 million from GBP427.7 million the year before, due to an increase in passenger volumes.

Amongst London's small-caps, Motorpoint was down 4.8%.

The automotive retailer reported a less impressive set of interim results for the six months to September 30, with a somewhat gloomy outlook.

Revenue dropped 23% on-year to GBP607.2 million from GBP786.7 million, while pretax loss came in at GBP4.7 million, swung from a GBP3.0 million profit.

On AIM, United Oil & Gas plummeted 18%.

The oil and gas company focused on Egypt and Jamaica said its preferred potential partner no longer wishes to pursue discussions about participating in its Walton Morant license in Jamaica.

It will now focus on other interested parties, noting the "recent positive interest" in the license from potential partners.

Gold was quoted at USD1,993.72 an ounce, up slightly against USD1,993.04.

Still to come on Thursday's economic calendar, the European Central Bank releases its latest meeting minutes. In October, the ECB left its key interest rates unchanged, believing the effects of previous hikes are being felt "forcefully", though it warned inflation will remain high for "too long".

Markets in New York are closed for Thanksgiving.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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