* FTSE 100 down 0.3 pct
* Energy, auto shares fall
* Ex-divs weigh
* Cobham slumps after results
* FTSE 250 snaps 7-day winning streak
By Kit Rees and Helen Reid
LONDON, Feb 16 Britain's top share index
retreated from a one-month high on Thursday, weighed down by a
fall among oil firms and those trading ex-dividend, while
mid-cap engineer Cobham slumped after results.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended the day down 0.4
percent at 7,273.95 points, in line with a broader decline among
European indexes. The FTSE dropped 28.46 points, of which 27.64
were due to ex-divs, according to Reuters calculations.
A number of heavyweight companies dropped after trading
without entitlement to their latest dividend payout. AstraZeneca
, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Imperial
Brands all fell between 1.2 percent to 3.4 percent.
Oil & gas and auto & parts stocks
were the biggest weights on the index. Shares in Anglo American
and Antofagasta fell 2 to 2.2 percent as the
price of copper eased.
The mid-cap index snapped its seven-day winning
streak, closing down 0.7 percent and off Wednesday's record
high, due to dramatic results-driven moves. Engineering firm
Cobham closed down 15.1 percent to seal its second-worst
ever day, after yet another profit warning.
Cobham took a 150 million pound sterling charge on a
troubled contract with Boeing, leading it to downgrade its 2016
Drax Group also fell, down 5.3 percent after
reporting a disappointing set of results, with its core annual
earnings falling 17 percent on weaker power prices and the loss
of revenue from a green energy scheme.
However, a profit beat propelled Lancashire Holding's
shares 8.7 percent. The property and casualty insurer
posted a better-than-expected 2016 profit, helped by lower
expenses and higher gains in the final quarter.
Challenger banks were also top mid-cap gainers after a
Panmure Gordon note initiated rating on a handful of the
lenders, which use new technology to erode traditional banks'
OneSavings Bank, Shawbrook and Aldermore
were up 1.8 to 3 percent after Panmure analysts gave
them a "buy" rating.
"As large UK banks focus on cost reduction and commoditised
price sensitive mainstream lending, the specialist lenders are
filling the gap in those lending markets which require greater
sophistication and bespoke service," said analysts in a note.
On the small-cap index, Laura Ashley shares
sank 10.7 percent to post their worst day in nearly six years,
after the fashion and homeware retailer warned its full-year
profit would miss targets.
The shares were through 16 times their average 30-day volume
by market close.
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and Angus MacSwan)