* FTSE 100 index closes 0.7 percent lower
* Melrose, Legal & General down after updates
* Standard Chartered falls after results
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 5 Britain's top share index fell
again on Wednesday after rebounding from two-week lows in the
previous session, with updates from some companies disappointing
investors and tensions over Ukraine weighing on sentiment.
Engineering turnaround specialist Melrose fell 7.8
percent, the top decliner on the FTSE 100 index, after
warning of challenging market conditions and saying sales growth
in 2014 would not be easy to achieve.
Legal & General, a provider of life insurance and
pensions, fell 1.9 percent, with analysts flagging a small miss
in operational profit, while Standard Chartered dropped
2.1 percent after reporting its first drop in annual profits for
a decade and saying its profits will remain "challenged" in the
"Some large-cap companies have been particularly hit today,
with Standard Chartered coming under pressure," James
Butterfill, global equity strategist at Coutts, said.
"There has been some easing in tension, but the crisis in
Ukraine is far from resolved and could easily deteriorate, if
the situation is not handled sensitively."
French President Francois Hollande hosted a meeting of the
U.S., Russian, British, French and German foreign ministers on
Wednesday to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
The West and Russia, which said it could not order
"self-defence" forces in Crimea back to their bases, are facing
the most serious confrontation since the end of the Cold War
over influence in Ukraine, a major commodities exporter and
strategic link between East and West.
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.7 percent at 6,775.42 points
after rebounding 1.7 percent in the previous session following a
fall of 1.5 percent on Monday on Ukraine tensions.
"The FTSE 100 has been losing its momentum since the
beginning of the year due to disappointing results from
industrials such as BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and
Melrose," Mike Jarman, chief market strategist at H2O Markets,
Analysts advised caution but said the market's medium- to
longer-term outlook remained positive and the FTSE 100 index was
poised to set a record high in the coming months.
"The situation in Ukraine remains a threat for the broader
market. But generally people will continue to look towards
central banks and economic data, which have been quite
supportive," IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said.
"Once you have these temporary weaknesses out of the way, we
could push higher from here."
The index was also weighed down by five stocks, including
miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, going
ex-dividend. They took 8.46 points off the index, according to
However, losses were limited by gains in shares of some
companies. British motor insurer Admiral Group rose 7.5
percent to the top of the FTSE 100 after posting higher than
expected pre-tax earnings growth of 7 percent for 2013, boosted
by new overseas business.