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* StanChart gains as profit doubles
* Croda, CRH, LSE also rise on results
* Healthcare stocks biggest sectoral drag
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, April 26 British shares were flat on
Wednesday, with gains for Standard Chartered and other
companies that reported well-received earnings updates helping
to offset a pullback in healthcare stocks.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent by
0917 GMT, broadly in line with other European bourses, as some
analysts voiced concerns over the outlook for consumer
Standard Chartered was among the biggest gainers, rising
4.2 percent after its quarterly profit nearly doubled from a
year ago as the bank brought loan losses under control.
"Today's results are likely to keep bulls interested, but we
remain cautious on the revenue outlook," Jefferies analysts
The emerging markets-focused bank is in the midst of an
overhaul under Chief Executive Bill Winters that has shed 15,000
jobs and closed its stock-trading arm.
Fellow lenders Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland
, meanwhile, were both in negative territory, dropping
0.6 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.
Among those boosted by earnings statements was chemicals
company Croda, which rose 4.6 percent to a record high,
and building materials company CRH, the London-listed
shares of which were up 1.4 percent.
LSE shares advanced by 1 percent to a record high
after reporting a rise in quarterly income as its clearing and
FTSE Russell index-compiling operations grew strongly.
The company said it was exploring investments to drive
growth after the collapse of its proposed Deutsche Boerse
"UK earnings are coming in pretty strong. Today's figures
all point to rising sales and profits. Croda was good, CRH solid
... But we are seeing a worry around consumer spending falling
away as we head into the second half of the year, and this may
hit earnings," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX
Wilson said that, in contrast, consumer confidence in
continental Europe appears to be growing, raising the prospect
of "a big rotation into European equities" as political risks
Pharma stocks were the biggest drag on the FTSE, pulling
back from the previous session's gains on the back of fresh
dealmaking activity in Europe.
Heavyweight drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline fell 0.8
percent, while Shire dropped 0.9 percent.
A big faller among blue-chips was GKN, down 1.5
percent, after the engineer warned that the encouraging growth
rate achieved to date may not last.
(Editing by David Goodman)