March 9, 2017 / 10:33 AM / 3 years ago

Morrisons, miners depress Britain's FTSE

(ADVISORY- Follow European and UK stock markets in real time on the Reuters Live Markets blog on Eikon, see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets)

* FTSE 100 down 0.5 pct

* Morrisons results fail to impress

* Miners track metals prices lower

* Aviva jumps after earnings

By Kit Rees

LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - UK shares fell on Thursday, down for a sixth session in a row as a disappointing set of results from grocer Morrisons and weakness among miners outweighed a strong performance from insurance stocks.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.5 percent at 7,301.22 points by 1004 GMT, slightly underperforming the broader European market. The index was on track for its biggest one-day decline since the end of January.

Morrison’s, Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket, was the second-biggest blue chip faller, down 4 percent. While the grocer posted its first profit rise in five years, it warned that a rise in imported food prices meant that it faced an uncertain future.

Morrisons’ shares were strong performers in 2016, gaining around 56 percent.

“Supermarket shares have jumped a bit, but there is this wider concern that they’re not going to be in a position to fend off the higher prices - they’re going to try and keep prices low because of the price war ... but input prices are rising,” Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, said.

Mining stocks BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Glencore, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto all dropped between 1.7 percent to over 5.5 percent.

A fall in copper prices to a seven-week low hit the sector, with a stronger dollar, on the back of increased expectations of an interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve, making the metal more expensive for holders of foreign currency.

British insurers, however, were enjoying a strong session, led higher by a jump in Aviva’s shares, up 6.5 percent at a two-year high after reporting results.

“Overall a strong set of results particularly on solvency and capital return flagged for 2017,” analysts at UBS said in a note.

Aviva was joined by car insurer Admiral Group which rallied 2.4 percent after JPMorgan raised its rating on the stock to “overweight”. According to Eikon data, most analysts have either a “hold” or a “sell” rating on Admiral.

“We upgrade Admiral to Overweight as in our view recent share price weakness presents an attractive entry point into what remains a best-in-class insurer,” analysts at JPMorgan said in a note, adding that Admiral’s results yesterday demonstrated a good underlying performance.

Outside of the blue chips, pizza delivery firm Domino’s Pizza fell nearly 14 percent and was set for its worst day since June 2008 after reporting results, with analysts focusing on weak like-for-like sales growth figures for the first nine weeks of 2017. (Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Toby Davis)

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