UK's main stock index snaps winning streak, midcaps weighed down by Saga

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
UK's main stock index snaps winning streak, midcaps weighed down by Saga
Credit: © Reuters.

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* FTSE 100 loses 0.5 pct, FTSE 250 falls 0.4 pct

* Saga slumps on dividend cut, profit warning

* Oil majors slip on lower crude prices

* Ex-dividend trading hits Lloyds, Direct Line

April 4 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE retreated after a five-day rally on Thursday, as financial heavyweights slid on ex-dividend trading and oil majors weakened, while a profit alert sank tourism and insurance group Saga SAGAG.L on the midcap index.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent by 0715 GMT and the FTSE 250 .FTMC was down 0.4 percent.

On the Brexit front, a law was narrowly passed in the lower house of parliament to seek a second delay to Britain's divorce from the European Union, igniting optimism that a disorderly no-deal exit could be prevented.

Sterling inched up following the vote, along with housebuilders .FTNMX3720 , considered among the most exposed sectors to a hit to the economy.

But that was not enough to offset steep losses in financials Lloyds LLOY.L , Direct Line DLGD.L and St James's Place SJP.L , which traded ex-dividend.

BP BP.L and Shell RDSa.L slipped after crude prices weakened after a surprise buildup in U.S. inventories last week. O/R

Saga, the over-50s tourism and insurance specialist, contributed nearly a third of the losses in the FTSE 250 by 0728 GMT after it warned on profit and slashed its dividend amid a highly competitive motor and home insurance market.

"(This is a) kitchen sink job, it looks nasty," one trader said.

Saga was down 38 percent at its lowest ever, leaving it on course for its biggest daily loss on record.

A bright spot was home repairs provider HomeServe HSV.L , which added 4 percent on a company update saying its performance was "significantly ahead" of last year as its U.S. customer base continued to grow.

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