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* FTSE 100 down 0.2 pct
* RBS leads banks lower
* Associated British Foods rises after upgrade
By Kit Rees
LONDON, March 20 Britain's top share index
retreated from record levels on Monday, weighed down by falling
energy stocks and banks.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.2 percent at
7,410.95 points by 1025 GMT, slipping from 7,447.00 points
reached in the previous session, leaving it set to break a
three-day winning streak.
Energy stocks were the biggest drag on the
large caps, with BP falling 1.1 percent and Royal Dutch
Shell down 0.6 percent as oil prices came under
pressure from rising U.S. drilling and ongoing high supplies
Overall, the energy sector took around 8.4 points off the
FTSE 100. Mining stocks also contributed to losses,
with Antofagasta, BHP Billiton and Anglo
American down between 0.9 and 1.2 percent.
British banks were led lower by Royal Bank of
Scotland, which fell 1.6 percent.
“The financial stocks have all been on a pretty good push
over recent sessions, so we are starting to see some short-term
profit-taking come in," Dafydd Davies, partner at Charles
Hanover Investments, said.
"We could start to see, as Brexit uncertainty builds, a bit
more de-risking on the financials that are particularly exposed
to the direct state of affairs in question.”
Last week, British banking shares came under pressure on the
prospect of a new Scottish independence referendum and as the
trigger of Article 50 came into sight.
Associated British Foods was the top FTSE gainer,
however, up 2 percent after Goldman Sachs upgraded the
Primark-owner to "buy" from "neutral".
"We conclude that Primark's market positioning remains
differentiated and, unlike peers, higher input costs are baked
into FY17E GM%," analysts at Goldman said, adding that success
with a potential Click & Collect model could offer upside.
British mid cap stocks fared slightly better, down
just 0.1 percent. Shares in real estate investment trust (REIT)
Hansteen Holdings rose 2.6 percent to their highest
level since June 2007 after it agreed to sell its German and
Dutch industrial property portfolios for 1.28 billion euros
"The deal displays the group’s strategy at work, and has
allowed it to crystallise the revaluation gains and recent
currency movement following the depreciation of sterling against
the euro," analysts at Patronus Partners said in a note.
(Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Andrew Heavens)