UPDATE 2-FTSE 100 dips on sluggish euro zone PMI, Unilever sparkles

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
UPDATE 2-FTSE 100 dips on sluggish euro zone PMI, Unilever sparkles
Credit: © Reuters.

* FTSE 100 down 0.2 pct; FTSE 250 down 0.1 pct

* Unilever gains on upbeat sales

* Ex-dividend trading drags several stocks lower (There will be no UK stock market report on Friday and Monday on account of Easter holiday. Reuters will resume coverage on Tuesday, April 23)

By Yadarisa Shabong and Shashwat Awasthi

April 18 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 retreated slightly on Thursday after downbeat euro zone PMI data and as investors booked profits before the long Easter weekend.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE was down 0.2 percent and the FTSE 250 .FTMC dropped 0.1 percent. Despite being in the red this session, both indexes ended the week in positive territory.

"What's clear from today's PMI numbers is that there are as yet no green shoots of spring for the euro zone," Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson said.

Euro zone business activity barely grew in April as demand was sluggish even though prices rose modestly, surveys showed. Germany's Purchasing Managers' Index suggested a contraction among manufacturers in Europe's largest economy would continue for a few more months at least. Europe is still struggling, then we're not going to see any significant pick-up in UK stocks, certainly not the more global ones, because we need to sell them stuff," CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said.

Unilever ULVR.L was a stand-out gainer, rising 2.9 percent to levels not seen in a year and a half on the back of stronger-than-expected quarterly sales. analysts called the quarter a "decent start" to the year.

The FTSE 100 was dragged lower by AstraZeneca AZN.L and GlaxoSmithKline GSK.L , which fell following a sell-off in U.S. healthcare stocks over regulatory worries on Wednesday.

British American Tobacco (JO: SNHJ ) BATS.L shed 1.4 percent and Imperial Brands IMB.L gave up 0.8 percent after U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to introduce legislation to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products. biggest defence company BAE Systems BAES.L , which was trading ex-dividend, lost 3.8 percent.

Oil majors Shell RDSa.L and BP BP.L dropped on the FTSE 100, while Petrofac PFC.L tumbled 10.8 percent on the mid-cap index. O/R

The FTSE 250 was also dragged down by stocks trading ex-dividend. Motor insurer Hastings HSTG.L and power producer Drax DRX.L were among the worst performers.

But price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com MONY.L and cybersecurity firm Avast AVST.L jumped 4.3 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively, after their first-quarter revenue climbed.

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