Morrisons has posted falling sales over the crucial festive season amid "challenging" trading and shopper uncertainty.

The UK's fourth biggest grocery chain reported a 1.7% fall in group like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the 22 weeks to January 5 covering its third quarter and the key Christmas period.

It said it moved to slash prices to help boost trade, but admitted it missed out after choosing not to take part in November's Black Friday offers.

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The group said: "Throughout the period, trading conditions remained challenging and the customer uncertainty of the last year was sustained."

Chief executive David Potts said there was little sign of a so-called Boris Bounce after the Conservative Party victory at last month's election and warned consumer uncertainty would remain until the Brexit outcome becomes clearer.

The group added that the fuel market was also "highly competitive", with group like-for-like sales including fuel down by 2.8%.

It said full-year profits remained on track with forecasts despite the Christmas sales disappointment.

Mr Potts said: "It was encouraging that during an unusually challenging period for sales, our execution was strong and our profitability robust, demonstrating the broad-based progress we have made during the turnaround."

He added: "As always, we will take some learnings into the new year and look forward to 2020 with a strong plan and solid foundations on which to continue to grow."

Morrisons said in the overall 22-week period, third quarter same-store sales to November 3 fell 1.1%.

British oil giant BP has sold several oil fields in the North Sea for $625 million (£475 million) as major players continue to exit the basin, handing over to smaller producers.

Premier Oil, a London listed company, said it was buying the Andrew Area and Shearwater sites from BP, hoping to capture the 82 million barrels of oil and equivalents, thought to still be trapped under the ground.

The Andrew Area includes five oil fields, with a stake of between 50% and 100% in each, Premier said.

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It also includes a 25% interest in the Shearwater infrastructure hub.

"We look forward to realising the significant long-term potential of the Andrew and Shearwater assets through production optimisation, incremental developments and field life extension projects," said Premier's chief executive Tony Durrant.

Premier will also increase its interest in the Tolmount Area for $191 million (£145 million), and make contingent payments of up to $55 million (£42 million).

The cost of the acquisition works out at less than $10 per barrel of oil, while it will cost Premier around $20 to extract it from the ground. This means that as long as the price of oil stays above $30, the driller will be able to make a profit.

The deal comes as the price of oil pushed above $70 per barrel on Monday, as traders fear that tensions in the Middle East could cut off supplies form the vital region.

The news sent Premier's shares soaring by around 12%,with BP shares flat.

Gambling firm 888 has cheered an all-time record high for monthly revenues in December, but said poker remains a "challenging market".

The group said it is "confident" over its full-year out-turn thanks to a better second-half performance, which was bolstered by its Orbit casino platform and a solid result for sport betting.

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It also hailed a sustained recovery in its UK business, despite the impact of Brexit and an increase in the online gaming duty from 15% to 21% in April last year.

The firm - which is registered in Gibraltar - said poker trading continues to suffer, with the firm looking to lead a turnaround with the initial launch of its new poker platform, Poker 8, over the final six months of 2019.

It is adding new features and rolling out Poker 8 further across its markets over 2020.

Chief executive Itai Pazner said: "The group has delivered solid progress in the second half of the financial year, underpinned by continued momentum in casino and sport.

"We are very encouraged by the growth in new customers during 2019, with a record of more than one million new customers signing up to 888's brands during the year."

On the British market, he added: "We have delivered a strong recovery in our UK business, underpinned by a clear and unwavering focus on entertaining recreational customers in a safe and secure environment."