December 18, 2019 / 9:51 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Brexit woes drag on domestic firms, exporters buoy FTSE

* FTSE 100 up 0.2%, FTSE 250 down 0.1%

* Brexit worries resurface

* Softer sterling buoys exporters

* NMC ends lower despite affirming forecasts

* Staffline tanks on another profit warning (Adds news items, updates share prices to close, replaces analyst comment)

By Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong

Dec 18 (Reuters) - UK shares more exposed to the domestic economy eased further on Wednesday, hurt by renewed worries of a no-deal Brexit after Britain set a hard deadline of December 2020 to reach a new trade deal with the European Union.

The FTSE 250 inched 0.1% lower, retreating away from an all-time high hit on Monday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson stormed to a victory in a general election last week.

Though a majority for Johnson’s Conservative Party was seen as a harbinger of clarity over Brexit, his latest stance on negotiating a free trade deal with the EU has again cast doubts over how Britain’s departure process will play out.

The FTSE 100, however, added 0.2% on its sixth day of gains, its longest winning streak since June.

The index outperformed its European peers thanks to gains in exporter stocks, which benefited from a weaker pound and helped overpower losses in domestically-exposed housebuilders .

JPMorgan’s basket of listed companies that make their cash abroad scaled a five-month high.

The U.S. investment bank sees an “uncomfortably high” 25% chance of a no-deal Brexit.

Lawmakers will vote on Johnson’s withdrawal agreement on Friday. Britain has less than 11 months to iron out a deal with the European bloc.

“I think what the debate going forward is whether you have a lengthy transitional period ... or whether you have a quicker period, which isn’t a no-deal but basically it is where lots of the detail is ignored and maybe things such as some WTO rules are introduced,” Raymond James analyst Chris Bailey said.

Among individual stocks, Pearson climbed 1.7% on the main index after announcing plans to exit the consumer publishing business and the departure of its CEO.

Boeing supplier Meggitt slid 2.6% after brokerage Panmure Gordon initiated coverage with a “sell” rating following the U.S. planemaker’s decision to temporarily suspend production of its 737 MAX.

On the other hand, Senior, which dived 11% in the previous session on the MAX news, jumped 7.3% after Panmure started with a “buy” rating, saying downgrades were priced in.

NMC Healthcare slipped another 1%, a day after a short attack from Muddy Waters wiped off nearly a third of its market value, even as the UAE-based group stood by its 2019 and 2020 targets.

Payments company Finablr, which is co-chaired by the founder and co-chairman of NMC, gave up 5.8%.

AIM-listed recruiter Staffline plunged 23% to its lowest level in nearly a decade after another profit warning. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Rashmi Aich and Alex Richardson)

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