March 7, 2019 / 9:15 AM / 14 days ago

Weak earnings, ex-dividend trading drag FTSE 100 lower

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* FTSE 100 down 0.5 pct

* FTSE 250 down 0.7 pct

* Various blue-chips down on ex-dividend trading

* Slew of downbeat earnings also weigh

* Melrose, Informa outperform main index

March 7 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 was lower on Thursday as several blue-chip stocks traded ex-dividend, while NMC Health plus insurers Aviva and Admiral slipped after earnings reports, but Melrose gained after its adjusted profit nearly tripled.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.5 percent and the FTSE 250 was down 0.7 percent by 0838 GMT.

Miners Rio Rinto, BHP and Evraz plus housebuilder Persimmon all traded ex-dividend and were among the top drags on the main bourse.

United Arab Emirates’ healthcare provider NMC Healthcare slipped 6.3 percent on course for its worst day since July 2016 after posting annual results.

Jefferies analysts said NMC’s adjusted earnings per share were lower than their consensus as financial charges were much higher than expected.

Insurer Admiral Group shed 3.6 percent. Though the company reported better-than-expected 2018 earnings, a trader said that was largely on benefits related to Ogden rates.

Fellow insurer Aviva and asset manager Schroders also fell 2.8 percent and 3.6 percent respectively after their annual earnings reports.

But turnaround specialist Melrose Industries jumped 5.5 percent to its highest level since October after its full-year adjusted pretax profit nearly tripled, boosted by last year’s hostile takeover of British engineer GKN.

Also outperforming was event manager and publisher Informa which rose 2.2 pct as its organic revenue topped market view.

“With some big names ... going ex-dividend, and the general mood dour, the FTSE didn’t stand a chance,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

Vietnam Enterprise Investments slumped 5.8 percent to the bottom of the mid-cap index after APG Funds dissolved their stake in the company.

Premier Oil gained 4.6 percent after it swung to a net profit in 2018 from a net loss in the previous year.

Small-cap real estate agent Countrywide tumbled 7.6 percent as it forecast flat full-year earnings, citing more market weakness surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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