March 27, 2017 / 9:40 AM / in 9 months

Britain's FTSE hits one-month low as miners, Babcock slide

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* FTSE 100 down 0.8 pct

* Miners fall on weaker copper price

* Downgrades weigh on Lloyds, IAG

* Babcock down after contract termination

By Kit Rees

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index hit a one-month low after the failure of U.S. President Donald Trump to push his healthcare reforms through Congress hit mining shares and Babcock fell after exiting a contract.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.8 percent at 7,281.58 points by 0908 GMT, in line with the broader negative European market.

On Friday, Republican leaders pulled legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, a 2016 election campaign promise of Trump and his allies, which has put into question Trump’s ability to deliver on his other promises, such as tax reform.

The rally in global equity markets since Trump’s election has been driven by a reflation trade, on the hope for increased infrastructure spending and tax cuts.

“The agenda is quite badly dented now – (Trump has) got a lot of consensus building to do,” Ken Odeluga, market analyst at City Index, said.

“That’s going to delay his ability to be really, really effective in terms of pushing through tax reform and pharmaceuticals reform and certainly will delay coming back for another bite of this healthcare reform,” City Index’s Odeluga added.

British miners were among the biggest fallers among the large caps, with Glencore, BHP Billiton and Antofagasta all dropping between 2 percent to 2.6 percent as the price of copper slipped for a second day.

Among the dozen or so risers, precious metals miners were among the top gainers, with Polymetal International, Randgold Resources and Fresnillo all up between 1.8 percent to 2 percent, benefiting from a rise in gold prices as investors bought safe-haven assets.

Shares in International Consolidated Airlines were the biggest fallers, however, down more than 4 percent after Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its rating on the stock to “underperform” from “buy”.

Likewise Berenberg’s downgrade on Lloyds to “sell” from “hold” sent the shares 2.2 percent lower, with analysts saying the bank is riskier than perceived and that risks from cyclical loan losses are highly skewed.

Babcock International also declined, down 3.1 percent after the engineering outsourcer said it had reached a mutual agreement with the UK to terminate the Magnox nuclear decommissioning contract in 2019.

Outside of the blue chips, shares in car dealer Inchcape rose 4.5 percent after BNP Paribas upgraded its rating on the stock to “outperform” from “neutral”.

“The investment case has undergone a sharp U-turn over the past 6 months,” analysts at BNP Paribas said in a note.

“The macro backdrop has improved and there would now look to be upside risk to the demand environment. Currency has turned from a headwind to tailwind. Management have iterated a credible self-help programme to support earnings progression. M&A has moved from optionality to reality.” (Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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