(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)
* Oil producers biggest drag on FTSE 100
* Jobless rate drops to 5.0% in 3 months to January
* Cineworld drops despite plans to reopen theatres
* FTSE 100 down 0.4%, FTSE 250 off 0.6% (Updates to close)
By Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S
March 23 (Reuters) - British shares ended lower on Tuesday, dragged down by energy and mining stocks, as fresh restrictions and slow vaccination campaigns across Europe stoked fears over the pace of economic recovery.
The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index .FTSE ended 0.4% lower, with oil heavyweights BP BP.L and Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L being the biggest drags, shedding 3.7% and 3.3% respectively on weaker crude prices. O/R
"At least the index as a whole is in a happier place than it was 12 months ago when it traded below the 5,000 mark amid concern about the impact of COVID on the economy," said Russ Mould, director at AJ Bell investment.
The FTSE 100 has risen 3.6% so far this year on the back of global stimulus measures and optimism about an economic rebound from vaccination rollouts. But rising concerns around the third wave of coronavirus infections in Europe and slowing pace of vaccine rollout on the back of supply crunch has made investors cautious.
Healthcare stocks were among the top laggards, weighed by AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L which fell 1.8%, after a U.S. health agency said the drugmaker might have provided an incomplete view of efficacy data on its COVID-19 vaccine from a large scale trial in the United States. jobless rate unexpectedly fell in the three months to January, a change that partly reflected people giving up their job hunt as lockdown measures tightened at the start of the year, official figures showed. domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index .FTMC fell 0.6%, hit by losses in industrials stocks.
Cineworld CINE.L fell 5.7%, even after saying it would re-open U.S. theatres in April and its British halls a month after, in time to screen big-budget movies including "Godzilla vs. Kong", after prolonged shutdowns due to the health crisis.
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