* FTSE 100 down 0.25 pct
* U.S. politics jitters hit equity markets
* Financials, miners biggest weights
* Lloyds rises after govt sales final stake
* Upgrade boosts Kingfisher
* British Land falls after cautious outlook
(Recasts, adds details, updates prices at close)
By Kit Rees
LONDON, May 17 Britain's top share index snapped
a nine-day gaining streak on Wednesday, turning lower as U.S.
political developments weighed on European equity markets, with
mining stocks and banks the biggest sectoral drags.
After spending the majority of the session in flat to
slightly positive territory, British blue chips turned lower, in
step with the broader equity market after reports about a leaked
memo by former FBI chief James Comey brought political worries
The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.25 percent
at 7,503.47 points at its close, sliding from a record high hit
in the previous session, though the FTSE's fall was tempered by
strength among energy stocks and precious metals miners.
"The political uncertainty in (Washington) DC has given
traders the perfect excuse to bank the previous day's profits,"
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said.
"London's relatively high exposure to commodity related
companies has ensured that the sell-off hasn’t been that
Shares in CRH and Ashtead were among the
biggest fallers, while results weighed on British Land,
which fell 3.3 percent - its biggest one-day loss in four months
- after issuing a cautious outlook for the property market due
to Brexit uncertainty.
Peers Land Securities Group and Intu Properties
Among miners, Glencore and Anglo American
were down 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.
There were a few bright spots, however, with banking stock
Lloyds rising 2 percent after the British government
sold off its remaining stake in the lender following its bailout
in the 2007-09 global financial crisis.
Investment platform provider Hargreaves Lansdown
was also a top gainer, up 1.7 percent and recovering some of its
losses from the previous session.
Its shares tumbled 8.5 percent on Tuesday, with traders
pointing to an announcement from ETF provider Vanguard about
plans to sell directly to investors in Europe for the first
"The HL business model has proved itself to be incredibly
resilient in the face of a couple of major headwinds in recent
years," Shore Capital analyst Paul McGinnis said in a note.
"We would be a lot more nervous around the implications of
the Vanguard platform for the fledgling robo-advice sector."
Precious metals miner Randgold Resources was also in
demand as the price of gold rose.
Broker action lifted shares in Kingfisher, which was
up 2 percent after HSBC raised its recommendation on the stock
to "buy" from "hold".
A Jefferies downgrade to "underperform" from "buy" weighed
on pharma stock Hikma, which dropped 2.8 percent.
Jefferies equity analyst James Vane-Tempest cited the recent
delay in U.S. approval for Hikma's generic drug Advair.
Outside of the blue chips, well-received full-year results
from Sophos helped the network security firm hit a new
lifetime high, up 6.9 percent.
The stock has been in demand following a global "ransomware"
attack, boosting shares in cyber security firms.
(Editing by Andrew Heavens and Ed Osmond)