* FTSE 100 down 0.5 pct
* FTSE 250 down 0.9 pct
* Various blue-chips down on ex-dividend trading
* Slew of downbeat earnings also weigh
* Financials fall after ECB announcement
* Melrose outperforms main index (Adds news item, analyst comments, updates to closing prices)
By Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M
March 7 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 fell on Thursday as several blue-chip stocks traded ex-dividend and financial stocks were hit after the European Central Bank delayed a rate hike at least until next year and offered a fresh round of cheap loans to banks.
NMC Health and insurers Aviva and Admiral all slipped after earnings reports.
An index of banks .FTNMX8350 had its worst day in two weeks as the ECB pushed out the timing of its first post-crisis rate hike to 2020 at the earliest and offered banks a new round of cheap loans that was less generous than previous packages. appear to be spooked by the complete somersault done by the ECB in terms of their inflation and growth outlook. The decision to implement a new TLTRO six months from now suggests that the central bank is more concerned than it was in January," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.
This came after sentiment had already been muddied by news that talks between EU officials and Britain on amending its divorce deal with the European Union had made no headway and no swift solution was in sight.
United Arab Emirates' healthcare provider NMC Health NMC.L skidded more than 11 percent, its worst day on record, 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 ADML.L shed 4.7 percent on its worst day in more than a year and a half. Though the company reported better-than-expected 2018 earnings, a trader said that was largely on benefits related to Ogden rates.
But turnaround specialist Melrose Industries MRON.L gained 2.1 percent to its highest level since early October after its full-year adjusted pre-tax profit nearly tripled, boosted by last year's hostile takeover of British engineer GKN (LON: GKN ). real estate agent Countrywide CWD.L tumbled 12.4 percent as it forecast flat full-year earnings, citing more market weakness surrounding Brexit. consumer stocks and real estate shares together knocked nearly 150 points off the mid-cap index.
But defence contractor Ultra Electronics ULE.L jumped 11 percent to a more than five-month high after a rating upgrade from JP Morgan. investors in global equities, who have taken some of the best performing indices back to pre-Q4 rout highs, are now struggling to justify re-rating markets much higher," City Index analyst Ken Odeluga summed up.
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