UK shares dragged lower by Rolls-Royce, British American Tobacco

Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London
Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London
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UK shares dragged lower by Rolls-Royce, British American Tobacco


Britain's FTSE 100 was lower on Thursday as Rolls-Royce slipped after dropping out the race for Boeing's mid-market aircraft, results dragged on British American Tobacco and miners fell on weak Chinese factory data.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.8 percent at 0911 GMT, falling for a third straight session and the FTSE 250 was down 0.5 percent. The index was on track for its second monthly gain.

Investor sentiment was hit as the White House said President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not reach an agreement at the end of two days of meetings and as data showed factory activity in China shrank to a three-year low in February.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce gave up almost 5 percent, on track for its worst day since early December, after it withdrew from a competition to power Boeing's planned mid-market aircraft.

Miners and oil majors were among the top drags on the main index along with British American Tobacco, which fell 2 percent despite posting higher full-year profit and sales.

While the margins beat expectations, Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett said he had anticipated more detail on 2019 guidance, especially on prices, which may concern some investors.

He said total full-year cigarette and new tobacco heating products (THP) fell 3.5 percent, more than the 2.6 percent he had anticipated.

General insurer RSA fell 4.3 percent as high weather-related losses and weakness in commercial underwriting hit its annual operating profit.

On the midcaps, luxury British carmaker Aston Martin slumped 8.5 percent after its annual adjusted pre-tax profit fell. Its chief executive Andy Palmer said a delay to Brexit would be a "further annoyance", which would prolong uncertainty.

Ready meals supplier Bakkavor slumped 10 percent on track for its worst day ever to the bottom of the mid-caps after flagging that subdued consumer confidence and inflationary pressures have continued into 2019 after reporting weaker-than-expected EBITDA.

In other moves, EasyJet, Barclays and Micro Focus fell as the stocks traded ex-dividend while packaging and paper group Mondi dipped after a cautious 2019 forecast.

Outperforming the main bourse was pest control firm Rentokil that added 5 percent after higher annual earnings. The gain put the stock on course for its best day in more than one-and-a-half years.

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