FTSE dips on murky trade view; Tullow tanks on mid-caps

(Reuters) - London’s main bourse retreated on Wednesday as traders grew weary of mixed trade signals from U.S. President Donald Trump, while mid-caps slid on the back of weak economic data and a plunge in Tullow Oil.

FILE PHOTO: A trader works at his desk whilst screens show market data at CMC Markets in London, Britain, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/John Sibley

The more internationally-exposed FTSE 100 .FTSE fell 0.2%, trimming some early losses as exporter stocks such as Diageo DGE.L and AstraZeneca AZN.L benefited from a weaker pound.

The jump in exporter shares also helped the bourse outperform the broader European benchmark index .STOXX.

The FTSE 250 .FTMC fared worse, dropping 0.7% on its worst day in more than five weeks, after data showed average weekly earnings rose at a weaker pace in the three months to September in the UK.

Leading the fall was Tullow Oil TLW.L which slumped 27%, its biggest one-day fall in 15 years, after it cut the production outlook and said the quality of oil recently discovered in Guyana was heavy in nature.

“The group remains saddled with debt... With fresh production snags also now weighing on free cash flow expectations, it remains difficult to envisage the shares making sustainable upside progress in the near term,” Cityindex analyst Ken Odeluga wrote.

Stocks were little affected by increased hopes that the Bank of England would ease interest rates after data showing British inflation in October fell to its lowest level in nearly three years. They also shrugged off upbeat comments on the U.S. economy from Fed chief Jerome Powell.

On the main index, Asia-exposed financials, led by HSBC HSBA.L, weighed most as the protests in Hong Kong showed no signs of easing and as Trump gave no specific updates on trade talks with Beijing.

Investors have been glued to Sino-U.S. trade headlines for any signs of a meaningful headway. Despite a flurry of thaws and backtracking, markets are cautious until a concrete deal is struck.

Other news-driven moves saw blue-chip British Land BLND.L slip 3.3% after the real estate firm reported a drop in profit and revenue due to challenging market conditions.

Bottler Coca Cola HBC CCH.L, however, enjoyed its best day since Aug. 2017 as it jumped 6% after touting a "strong quarter" despite adverse weather conditions.

Mid-cap postal firm Royal Mail RMG.L climbed as much as 4.7% to a near six-month high after it won a high court injunction to block potential strikes by its largest union.

Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Gareth Jones