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* FTSE 100 down 0.1 pct
* Britons go to the polls in test of Prime Minister May
* Laundry deal boosts Berendsen
* Petrofac jumps on Oman deal
By Helen Reid
LONDON, June 8 British shares marked time on
Thursday as Britons headed to the polls after a tumultuous
campaign which saw Prime Minister Theresa May's lead tighten in
Trading was timid on the major FTSE 100 benchmark,
which was up 0.1 percent by 0900 GMT ahead of results from
Britain's parliamentary elections and a rate decision by the
European Central Bank.
Polls indicated Prime Minister Theresa May's gamble on
securing a bigger Conservative majority would be rewarded with a
win, though the surprise 2016 vote to quit the European Union
meant investors were considering all scenarios.
Mid-caps have outperformed the exporter-heavy FTSE 100 so
far this year but the blue-chips have gained back some ground in
recent weeks as tightening polls prompted greater caution on
"Some investors, possibly the market makers, have been told
to get their books fairly straight rather than having long
positions in stocks that could take a caning," said Paul
Mumford, manager of the Cavendish opportunities fund.
"If you were to get a coalition, or Labour win, or a very
small, difficult-to-work Conservative result, then the market
would take it quite badly in the short term, the pound would
drop and this would provide a boost to the exporters," he added.
"So the FTSE 100 has performed relatively well because
people want to have an overseas hedge."
Inversely, a bigger majority for the Conservatives could
prompt institutions to pick up some bargains among mid-caps,
U.S. bank Citi advised investors to hedge political risk
through the "UK 8", a list of blue-chip stocks least exposed to
domestic sales, while avoiding the "Anti UK 8" stocks with the
greatest dependence on the British economy.
Traders in the City of London prepared for a long night,
with banks and brokers pulling in extra staff to cover for
potential volatility as results trickle in.
While macroeconomic events were front and centre of
investors' minds, some company moves stood out.
Centrica and SSE were among the top blue-chip
gainers. Their share prices have dipped in recent weeks as the
election approached, with investors concerned about manifesto
promises to cap energy prices or nationalise the companies.
"The prospect of nationalisation from a Labour government
has caused investors to cool on the utilities sector," said
Kathleen Brooks, market analyst at City Index, in a note.
Among mid-caps, Berendsen jumped 9 percent, the
most actively traded stock as investors cheered a merger with
Elis after the French laundry firm sweetened its offer
for the company.
Elis' latest offer valued Berendsen at 2.2 billion pounds,
or 1,250p a share, a 45 percent premium to its closing price
before the initial takeover offer last month.
Petrofac shares jumped 6 percent, among top European
gainers, after the oil services firm sealed a 10-year deal with
Petroleum Development Oman.
Petrofac was set for its best day in just under a year, but
still wallowed near the eight-year lows hit when Moody's cut the
firm's debt rating to junk a week ago.
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Jon Boyle)