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UK shares flat in thin deals, stocks trading ex-dividend tumble

UK shares flat in thin deals, stocks trading ex-dividend tumble
FILE PHOTO: A broker reacts on the IG Index the trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson -
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By Shashwat Awasthi

(Reuters) – UK stocks were largely unchanged on Thursday as several investors stayed on the sidelines in lieu of a U.S. market holiday, while shares of IAG and Coca Cola HBC posted steep falls as they traded ex-dividend.

The FTSE 100 <.FTSE> hovered around a 10-month high and the FTSE 250 <.FTMC> was trading roughly flat by 0745 GMT.

British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group <ICAG.L> skidded 7.5% and was on course for its worst day since June 2016. Coca-Cola’s <KO.N> leading bottler Coca Cola HBC <CCH.L> slipped 7.2%.

The slide in stocks trading without a dividend entitlement kept the main index from rising for a fifth straight session even though a softer-than-expected U.S. jobs report overnight spurred hopes of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

Companies in the United States added more jobs in June, but fewer than what analysts had forecast.

UK markets have been sensitive to dovish signals this week as expectations of near-term rate cuts by the Bank of England were raised by weak economic data and remarks by Governor Mark Carney.

In June, the FTSE 100 had enjoyed its best month since January amid rising hopes that central banks around the world would loosen policy to counter slowing growth.

In a handful of news-based moves, Israel-focused gas driller Energean <ENOG.L> surged 7.6% to an all-time high after saying it would buy the oil and natural gas unit of Italy’s Edison SpA <EDNn.MI>.

Persimmon <PSN.L>, Britain’s second-largest homebuilder, shed 2.4% after it posted lower first-half revenue as increased focus on quality and improving customer service slowed order intake.

“The pressures of the step up in customer service continue to weigh on revenues… the question remains of how long until customer service initiatives impact profitability,” Jefferies analysts said.

Meanwhile, shares of blue-chip rivals Taylor Wimpey <TW.L>, Barratt <BDEV.L> and Berkeley <BKGH.L> gave up nearly 1% each.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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