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* FTSE 100 down 0.1 pct
* Blue-chips set for worst week since November
* Reckitt Benckiser weighs after Q1 sales miss
* Marks & Spencer rises to pre-Brexit vote levels
* WS Atkins hits all-time high on Canadian buyout
By Helen Reid
LONDON, April 21 British shares inched lower on
Friday, set for their worst weekly losses since early November
after Tuesday's surprise call for an national election caused
equities to fall.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.1 percent on the day,
weighed by consumer goods stocks while miners gained.
Prime Minister Theresa May called the early vote for June 8,
sending sterling higher and erasing year-to-date gains for the
"The FTSE has obviously had a terrible week - although
corporate earnings have been somewhat of a mixed bag, the snap
election, while providing medium term stability for Brexit
negotiations, has created some short term market uncertainty,"
said Mark Ward, head of execution trading at Sanlam Securities.
Mid-caps and small-caps maintained their
outperformance on the day. They have gained 7.3 and 6 percent
respectively this year.
"People have been reaching for the UK domestic stocks, but
there's reasons to be quite cautious there still," said Eric
Moore, head of Miton's UK Income fund.
"The UK consumer is still under the cosh. Consumption has
held up quite well but it's supported by things that are
unsustainable in the long run," he added.
Retail sales figures out Friday showed the biggest quarterly
fall in seven years for the first quarter, as rising prices
started to squeeze consumers.
Miners led large-cap gains, with Glencore, Anglo American,
Antofagasta and Rio Tinto up 1.7 to 2.4 percent. Defence firm
Babcock gained 3.1 percent.
Consumer staples stocks were top weights, with Reckitt
Benckiser the top loser, down 1.5 percent after its
first-quarter sales disappointed due to weak markets in Europe
and North America.
"while the market was prepared for a weak quarter, Reckitt
Benckiser is the only EU Food/HPC company so far to miss on
undemanding like-for-like expectations," said UBS analysts.
Peer Unilever also fell 1 percent.
A thumbs-up from Barclays boosted Marks & Spencer
shares up 1.3 percent, taking the retailer back to its
pre-Brexit vote levels for the first time.
Barclays opened coverage of the stock with an "overweight"
rating, saying a shift towards food, and management's plan to
overhaul its clothing and home segment, would drive growth.
"M&S cannot avoid industry headwinds but its older and
wealthier customer base may be helpful," Barclays analysts said.
"We expect Food to account for 64 percent of UK sales in
2020, rising steadily from 52 percent in 2010."
Merger moves continued to move stocks, and mid-cap WS Atkins
rose 5.1 percent to an all-time high after Canadian
engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group firmed up its $2.67
billion offer to buy the firm.
Phone and broadband provider TalkTalk gained 4.3
percent after HSBC upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold",
saying the government's Wholesale Local Access review was good
news for TalkTalk which could benefit from lower input
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Alison Williams)