FTSE 100 off multi-month highs as sterling gains on Brexit relief

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
FTSE 100 off multi-month highs as sterling gains on Brexit relief
Credit: © Reuters.

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* FTSE 100 down 0.2 pct

* FTSE 250 up 0.2 pct

* Smiths up on healthcare unit separation plans healthcare

* Exporters, oil stocks top drags

March 22 (Reuters) - London's main stock index retreated from its five-and-a-half month high as exporter stocks took a hit from a stronger pound, after the European Union granted Theresa May a short extension to get lawmakers behind her proposed Brexit agreement.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE , whose constituents derive much of their revenue in U.S. dollars, dipped 0.2 percent by 0814 GMT. The more domestically exposed FTSE 250 .FTMC added 0.2 percent.

Weighing on the main index were drug maker AstraZeneca AZN.L , which hit a high in the last session on the pound's weakness; GlaxoSmithKline GSK.L and Unilever ULVR.L .

Oil majors Shell RDSa.L and BP BP.L also dragged on the FTSE 100 as crude prices slipped. the index was engineering company Smiths Group SMIN.L , which advanced 3.4 percent after it announced plans to separate its struggling healthcare unit and list it in the UK. The gains placed Smiths on course for its best day in more than four months.

The Brexit update also lifted housebuilders, which would suffer in an economy damaged in a disorderly departure from the EU. Barratt BDEV.L and Berkeley BKGH.L rose over 1 percent.

Among midcaps, Aggreko AGGK.L , the world's largest temporary power provider, jumped 6 percent as brokerage Stifel upgraded the stock and said it saw bigger impact than expected from strategic changes by new management.

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