* FTSE 100 down 0.3 pct
* WPP, Berendsen fall after results
* Precious metals miners under pressure
* Shawbrook spikes after private equity acquisition offer
(Updates at close)
By Kit Rees and Helen Reid
LONDON, March 3 Britain's top share index
retreated on Friday, weighed down by a raft of disappointing
earnings updates as well as weakness in the mining sector.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent at
7,374.26 points by 1630 GMT, having hit a record high in the
previous session. It closed the week higher, however, posting
its best weekly gains since December, up 1.8 percent.
Weak earnings dampened the mood on the day.
WPP, the world's largest advertising group, saw its
shares drop 8 percent after the firm expressed concerns about
the outlook for 2017, cutting its sales forecasts on the back of
a bleak economic environment.
"This suggests a worrying continuation of what (WPP) terms a
'tepid' macro environment, clients 'grinding it out in a highly
competitive game' and a cooling of positive tail winds," Mike
van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said.
"Not really what investors want to hear when shares are just
shy of all-time highs."
Britain's mid caps also did not escape unscathed
after shares in commercial laundry firm Berendsen
tanked nearly 17 percent, before recovering to close down 11.4
Berendsen said that it expected performance in the first
half of 2017 to be impacted by legacy operations in the UK.
Miners were also putting pressure on UK shares, as precious
metals miners Fresnillo among the blue chips, and
mid-caps Hochschild and Centamin, all fell
between 2.9 and 6.6 percent, tracking the price of gold lower.
Gold eased ahead of a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen, with the possibility of an interest rate hike
later in March helping the dollar make gains this week.
"The chances of a rate hike at the next Fed meeting have
increased from 30 percent just a couple of weeks back to 90
percent, so there's a lot more realisation that the U.S. could
be raising rates that bit sooner," Dafydd Davies, partner at
Charles Hanover Investments, said.
"Of course (on) the FTSE 100 you've got a fair few mining
stocks... with the strong dollar that could actually affect
demand for the products they're pulling out of the ground."
Acacia Mining was the top mid-cap faller, down 13.5
percent after the Tanzanian government announced it was banning
gold/copper concentrate exports from the country.
The miner's three gold mines are in Tanzania, and
gold/copper concentrate accounts for approximately 30 percent of
group revenues, Acacia said in a statement after the move,
adding it was seeking clarification from the Tanzanian ministry
of Energy and minerals.
Shares in challenger bank Shawbrook spiked, closing
up 18.2 percent, its biggest daily gain in eight months, after
it said private equity firms Pollen Street Capital and BC
Partners had offered to buy the lender in a deal worth 825
million pounds ($1.01 billion).
(Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Toby Chopra and Ken Ferris)