(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)
* Unilever falls on discouraging sales target
* Royal Dutch Shell down as profit slumps
* JD Sports up after raising $631 million
* FTSE 100 down 0.1% and FTSE 250 adds 0.3% (Updates to close)
By Shashank Nayar, Amal S and Shivani Kumaresan
Feb 4 (Reuters) - The FTSE 100 ended lower on Thursday, dragged down by Unilever Plc ULVR.L and Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L over disappointing sales goals and a slump in profit, while the Bank of England cut its growth forecast for this year.
Unilever Plc ULVR.L lost 6.2% and was the biggest drag on the index, after its sales growth target underwhelmed investors seeking more ambitious goals amid strong consumer demand for plant-based food products and home care brands. major Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L was down 2.0%, after its profit last year dropped to its lowest in at least two decades as the coronavirus pandemic hit energy demand worldwide. blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE edged 0.1% lower, while the mid-cap index .FTMC added 0.3%.
The BoE kept its benchmark interest rate on hold at 0.1% and said Britain's economy would probably shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, but was expected to recover rapidly towards pre-COVID levels over the year. pent-up savings set to be unleashed later this year by consumers looking to make up for lost time, the likelihood of negative rates being implemented in the UK this year is reducing," said Hugh Gimber, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
The export-oriented and commodity stocks-heavy FTSE 100 has rebounded from early-2021 losses to trade 1.3% higher for the year, and is set to post a weekly gain as vaccinations pick up pace, corporate earnings improve and commodity prices increase.
BT BT.L , Britain's biggest broadband and mobile operator, fell 3.2%, after reporting a 5% drop in both adjusted revenue and core earnings that it attributed to COVID-19 closing retail stores and reducing mobile roaming revenue. biggest sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion JD.L rose 2.2%, after raising 464 million pounds ($631 million) through a placing of new shares.
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