February 2, 2018 / 10:22 AM / 3 months ago

FTSE 100 heads for worst week in six months as results drag

* FTSE 100 down 0.2 pct

* BT, AstraZeneca results weigh

* Capita rebounds slightly on upgrade

* Worst week for FTSE since Aug 2017

By Kit Rees

LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index retreated on Friday after results from BT and AstraZeneca were met with disappointment, rounding off a lacklustre week for British blue chips.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.2 percent at 7,476.12 points by 0942 GMT, set for its fourth day of straight losses, while mid caps declined 0.3 percent.

“There’s a global flight to safety out of risk assets, so it’s not just a UK phenomenon,” Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, said.

“We have had some soft earnings with some quite dramatic falls for individual shares (which) have dented a bit of appetite for UK stocks, then we have had the pound which has been generally pretty resilient, pretty strong,” Lawler added.

Share price falls following earnings updates were to blame for declines on the day, with the FTSE 100 on track for its worst week in nearly six months as it retreated further from the record high it hit in the middle of January.

BT Group was the biggest faller, its shares down more than 5 percent at a five-year low after the telecoms firm reported third quarter earnings.

While BT broadly met expectations, analysts flagged a lack of growth and concerns around its pension scheme.

“The performance in the Wholesale and Global Services divisions remains stagnant, whilst the pension situation is a concern. Key metrics such as revenues and earnings per share remain patchy and slightly light of expectations,” Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, said.

AstraZeneca also saw its shares decline after giving an update on its performance for the full-year.

The pharma company dropped 1.7 percent on the back of a disappointing profit outlook.

Elsewhere a bounce among commodities-related stocks was a bright spot. Shares in miners Anglo American, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto rose between 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent thanks to a firmer copper price.

Heavyweight oil stocks Royal Dutch Shell and BP also advanced 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent respectively as oil prices extended gains.

Among smaller stocks, troubled outsourcer Capita was the top gainer on the mid cap index, its shares rising more than 5 percent following an upgrade from broker Morgan Stanley to “equal-weight” from “underweight”.

Capita’s shares have tumbled this week following a big profit warning and dividend suspension.

“We continue to view Capita as a traditional BPO provider that is competitively challenged, which justifies a discount to its wider peers,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note, referring to business process outsourcing.

“But with the shares now up with events, we move to Equal-weight.”

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Toby Chopra

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