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* FTSE 100 down 1.3 pct
* Construction, mining stocks weigh
* Credit checker Experian drops on slower growth
* Retail sales strengthen pound, weigh on FTSE
* Berendsen skyrockets as rejects Elis takeover offer
By Helen Reid
LONDON, May 18 British shares headed for their
worst day in a month on Thursday, leading Europe-wide losses as
political turmoil in the U.S. soured the "Trump trade" which has
powered the FTSE to record highs.
A stronger sterling compounded losses on the mostly
foreign-earning FTSE, down 1.2 percent by 0900 GMT,
underperforming Europe's STOXX 600.
The pound broke above $1.30 after retail sales beat
forecasts, showing consumers in the UK are maintaining spending
despite concerns about inflation pressures.
As the Trump trade unravelled, sectors that had gained the
most on his election fell sharply. Construction equipment rental
firm Ashtead and building materials firm CRH
were among top fallers, down 4.3 and 2.7 percent.
Builders had been some of the top gainers after the election
as investors bet on president Trump's promised infrastructure
Mining stocks also weighed with BHP Billiton, Anglo
American, Antofagasta among biggest fallers, while investors
rushed to the safety of utilities and consumer goods.
While investors said turmoil in the U.S. could spur further
rotation from the American market into European and UK equities,
the immediate fears sent the region's shares tumbling.
"The sell-off we saw in the S&P 500 is being felt in a
global ‘risk-off’ trade now rather than favouring any region
over another, at least in the shorter term," said Edward Park,
director at Brooks Macdonald.
The world's biggest credit card data company Experian
fell 3.8 percent to the bottom of the FTSE after its
full-year results showed slower growth in North America, while
profitability and cashflow remained strong.
Hargreaves Lansdown fell 1.8 percent after a
trading update which, though largely positive, was badly
received by analysts at Liberum, who highlighted increasing
pricing pressure from offerings such as Vanguard's entering the
The fund supermarket saw assets jump 10 percent with
increased market gains and inflows as more retail investors
stashed savings into the new Lifetime ISA amid a global surge in
Yet Liberum analysts maintained a 'sell' on the stock,
saying Vanguard's aggressively priced platform launched in the
UK on Tuesday signalled increasing pressures on Hargreaves'
Luxury trench coat maker Burberry was a rare bright
spot on the blue-chips, up 2.1 percent after its full-year
results showing strong free cash flow rekindled investors' hopes
for the stock.
Profits were down 21 percent when the currency impact is
stripped out, hit by weaker demand in the U.S.
But analysts saw a better-than-expected cash flow, higher
dividend and new share buy-back as positive signs for the
"Despite all the difficulties of the last few years, cash
flow has held up throughout," said Steve Clayton, manager of the
HL Select UK Shares fund.
M&A action brightened the picture on the mid-cap
index. Laundry services group Berendsen surged 25
percent, set for its best day on record, after it rejected
French rival Elis's $2.6 billion offer, saying it undervalued
the firm significantly.
The French firm's latest approach was batted off as
Berendsen said it did not see a basis for any further
discussions with Elis.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)