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Britain's FTSE set for third week of straight losses as miners drag
April 7, 2017 / 9:23 AM / 6 months ago

Britain's FTSE set for third week of straight losses as miners drag

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* FTSE 100 down 0.1 pct

* Mining stocks weigh

* Precious metals outperform

* Upgrades buoy grocers

By Kit Rees

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index slipped on Friday as mining stocks dropped, in line with a broader risk-off move across markets after a U.S. cruise missile strike in Syria.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent at 7,295.17 points by 0904 GMT, set for its third week of losses in a row, its longest losing streak since the first three weeks of June 2016 in the run-up to the UK’s Brexit referendum.

“At the moment it’s really a question of whether or not Trump can deliver on his fiscal plans,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said.

“He’ll probably be able to deliver something, but I don’t think he’ll be able to deliver what’s been priced in, and I think we are ripe for a little bit of a correction.”

Mining firms were the biggest fallers as the price of copper dropped, with Anglo American, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Glencore and Antofagasta all down between 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

Precious metals miners rose, however, as investors fled to safe-haven assets such as gold, the underlying commodity, after the U.S. fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase from which it said a deadly chemical weapons attack was launched this week.

Shares in Randgold Resources were the top gainers, rising 2.2 percent, and silver and gold miner Fresnillo gained 1 percent.

Broker activity also drove the action on the single stock level, with shares in Wolseley down 1.2 percent after HSBC cut its rating to “hold” on the heating and plumbing products supplier. “We believe the business is reasonably fully valued. There are, perhaps, other inflation plays in the sector with more upside for those who want it,” analysts at HSBC said in a note.

ITV was another faller, down 1.1 percent after JP Morgan cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “overweight”, citing further weakness in UK advertising trends.

UK supermarkets were a bright spot, as Tesco and Sainsbury both advanced around 1.5 percent after UBS began its coverage of both stocks with a “buy” rating.

UBS was less positive on online grocer Ocado, which dropped 4.6 percent after UBS cut it to “sell”.

“We believe the market is moving against Ocado,” analysts at UBS said in a note, citing growth rates slowing in online grocery and challenges from an inflationary environment.

Overall, the FTSE 250 traded up 0.1 percent, with shares in Hunting and Aberdeen Asset Management gaining 3.7 percent and 2.9 percent respectively.

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Toby Davis

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