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* FTSE 100 Index falls 0.3 percent
* StanCcgart and RBS among top fallers
* Pearson shares advance after update
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Feb 24 Britain's top share index hit a
two-week low on Friday and was on track for a weekly loss after
three straight weeks of gains, with falls in lenders like
Standard Chartered and RBS after their results pressuring the
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.6 percent by
1040 GMT after falling to its lowest level since Feb. 10 earlier
in the session. It is down nearly 1 percent so far this week.
Shares in Standard Chartered fell 4.8 percent, the
biggest decliners in the FTSE 100 index, after the lender
returned to profit but held off on paying a dividend as it
swallows the costs of a restructuring programme.
Royal Bank of Scotland dropped 2.4 percent after
reporting a sharp increase in losses as higher misconduct
charges and restructuring costs underscored the challenges
facing the lender nine years after it was bailed out in the
world's biggest bank rescue.
"RBS is still paying for the sins of the past, though the
bank is now saying that 2017 is going to be its last year in
purgatory and that shareholders can look forward to a brighter,
more profitable year in 2018," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst
at Hargreaves Lansdown.
"That may well be the case. There is a decent bank inside
RBS struggling to get out, but it’s those 'one-off items' which
pop up with such alarming regularity which keep pushing the bank
deep into the red."
The UK banking index fell 0.7 percent and
stayed among the top sectoral fallers.
Miners also slipped, with the sector index down
1.3 percent, dragged down by a 0.7 to 1.9 percent fall in shares
of Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Glencore.
"Miners, which have had speculator performance last year,
are seeing some selling pressure as some wonder just how far the
sector can run higher," Jawaid Afsar, senior trader at
Securequity said. "Chinese demand concerns and the dollar also
have not helped recently."
The sector index has fallen for four straight sessions on
concerns about metal demand in China, the world's top consumer,
following suggestions that the authorities were planning to
stabilise the country's housing market. A firmer dollar, which
generally makes commodities costlier for holders of other
currencies, also hurt sentiment.
However, gains by some companies limited losses. Pearson
gained 3.4 percent after earning a brief respite from
the turmoil in its business, as the education services giant
reported no further deterioration in its trading.
British Airways owner IAG rose 2.5 percent after
reporting an 8.6 percent rise in annual operating profit and
said it would increase cash returns to shareholders through a
The broader FTSE 100 has surged 25 percent since a
post-Brexit slump in late June of 2015 as some economic
indicators have been resilient and consumers are still spending
Figures showed British banks approved the highest number of
mortgages in a year last month and credit card lending partly
revived after a lull in December.
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)