UPDATE 2-FTSE 100 turns around on AstraZeneca jump, weaker pound

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UPDATE 2-FTSE 100 turns around on AstraZeneca jump, weaker pound

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* FTSE 100 gains 1%, FTSE 250 down 1%

* Rolls Royce, Meggitt fall to bottom of FTSE 100

* easyJet tumbles on grounding its fleet, furloughing employees

* REIT Hammerson drags on midcap index

(Updates to close)

By Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain

March 30 (Reuters) - The UK's exporter-heavy FTSE 100 closed higher on Monday, helped by a jump in AstraZeneca's shares and a weaker pound, but the prospect of a prolonged coronavirus-led shutdown in Britain weighed on midcap shares.

The FTSE 100 index .FTSE rose 1%, recovering from early losses as AstraZeneca AZN.L gained 4.4% after U.S. regulators approved its treatment against an aggressive type of lung cancer in previously untreated patients. weaker pound following a Fitch's cut to Britain's sovereign debt rating also helped the big dollar earners on the index. the general mood was that of caution as investors were left wondering if the massive steps taken by policymakers over the pat weeks will be enough to shield global growth as many economists warn of a sharp economic slump. FTSE midcap index .FTMC fell 1%, with shopping centre operator Hammerson HMSO.L sliding 22% to the bottom after it suspended its final dividend and said the outbreak would have a material impact on its earnings. to woes for domestic businesses, a senior medical officer said on Sunday some lockdown measures in Britain could last months and only be gradually lifted. think the markets want to have hope, but the reality is there is still more pain to come in the short-term," said Louise Kernohan, investment director for UK Equities at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

The U.S. government passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill last week, while the UK government's commitment to pay 80% of the wages of workers who are temporarily laid off, and monetary policy easing by major central banks, had sparked a bounce in global stocks last week.

Still, the FTSE 100 is still headed for its worst month in more than three decades and is down about 28% since hitting a peak in January.

Shares in aerospace suppliers Rolls-Royce RR.L , Meggitt MGGT.L and Senior SNR.L fell between 12% and 14% after another bearish call from JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ).

The U.S. bank, which assumes a 38% drop in global air traffic in 2020, cut earnings estimates for the sector, and expects credit rating firms including the S&P to downgrade Rolls-Royce to non-investment grade. stocks have taken a beating, as the fast-spreading coronavirus triggered lockdowns globally, forcing airlines, and cruise and travel operators to scramble for cash to survive.

The wider travel and leisure index .FTNMX5750 fell 1.6%, with low-cost airline easyJet EZJ.L sliding 7.2% after revealing it had grounded its entire fleet and furloughed cabin crew for two months under a government job retention scheme. each sector, there will be relative winners and relative losers. The investors' job now is to choose the ones that will survive and hopefully will come out stronger after this - based on liquidity and balance sheet," said Aberdeen's Kernohan.

Battered shares in BP BP.L and Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L gained even as Brent crude plunged to its cheapest in 18 years on fears about the economic hit from the pandemic as well as a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. O/R

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