February 8, 2019 / 9:14 AM / 6 months ago

Britain's FTSE 100 stages tentative recovery; SSE and Johnson Matthey weigh

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* FTSE 100 up 0.3 pct

* FTSE 250 down 0.1 pct

* SSE weak after profit downgrade

* Peer Centrica falls after rating cut

* Earthport jumps after increased Visa bid

Feb 8 (Reuters) - London’s blue-chip shares staged a tentative recovery on Friday from their worst day in six weeks a day earlier, led by gains in banks and miners, even as weak earnings dragged on utilities, SSE and Centrica, and Johnson Matthey.

The FTSE 100 index was up 0.3 percent and the FTSE 250 was down 0.1 percent by 0855 GMT after suffering steep falls in the last session when Bank of England slashed economic growth forecasts amid Brexit uncertainties.

Investors also fretted about the protracted U.S.-China trade spat after news that U.S. President Donald Trump did not plan to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping before a March 1 deadline set by the two countries to strike a trade deal.

“Whilst this is a bit of a blow, it’s not in itself a reason to think trade talks are not going anywhere,” Neil Wilson, Markets.com analyst, said.

Ocado, which has lost more than a billion pounds in market value over the last two sessions after a fire at its robotic distribution centre, added 2.2 percent to top the main index.

Bank stocks were also higher after slipping in the previous session, but RBS was 1.3 percent lower a day after a report that the British government would consider trimming its stake in the bank.

Luxury brand Burberry added 1.2 percent, boosted by French luxury handbag label Hermes’ results and comments that said sales momentum in its Chinese stores stayed strong in the fourth quarter.

SSE, a part of Britain’s so-called “Bix Six” energy suppliers, declined by 1.6 percent after cutting profit target hit by the suspension of payments from a back-up power scheme to suppliers.

The firm’s bleak forecast as well as a rating downgrade by Citigroup dragged down peer Centrica nearly 3 percent.

Auto catalyst maker Johnson Matthey was knocked lower after rival Umicore warned of slowing autos demand in China, the world’s top car market.

Oil shares were the worst-performing shares on the main index with crude prices dampened by worries over a global economic slowdown, while dollar earners including Unilever advanced on a weaker pound.

Earthport shares surged 13.4 percent as Visa tabled an increased buyout offer for the British payment company, topping an earlier bid from Mastercard. (Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; editing by Josephine Mason)

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