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FTSE 100 Flat, Ex-Dividend Trades Dim Melrose Earnings Boost

Reuters) -London shares traded flat on Thursday, as a jump in Melrose Industries following an upbeat earnings report was offset by ex-dividend trading and losses in heavyweight Unilever’s stocks.

The blue-chip index was unchanged, with engineering firm Melrose gaining 5% to the top of FTSE 100 after swinging to a first-half profit helped by a recovery in aerospace division.

On the other hand, global miner BHP Group slid 5.5% to the bottom of index, while motor insurer Admiral Group slipped 2.3% as it traded ex-dividend.

Unilever Plc fell 2.5% after JP Morgan downgraded the Dove soap maker’s stock to “underweight” from “neutral”.

Investors in the Asian stock markets were cautious on growing concerns about the Chinese economy after a run of soft data, while awaiting the U.S. payrolls report on Friday.

“The market is waiting for this non-farm payrolls (data) that has potentially big market moving implications for the Federal Reserve,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at

“With the Fed looking at the employment market more and more as its guide rather than inflation... you’re getting to the point now where, because of the potential imminent taper, each jobs report becomes more and more important.”

The FTSE 100 has risen nearly 10.7% so far this year, boosted by strong corporate earnings and hopes of a strong vaccine-led economic recovery.

But a resurgence in global coronavirus cases and fear that central banks would taper their asset purchases earlier-than expected rekindled concerns about the pace of growth.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index was down 0.1%, after ending at a record high on Wednesday.

CMC Markets dropped 25.6% to the bottom of the index, after the online trading platform slashed its annual earnings outlook.

EnQuest fell 7.1% after the North Sea-focused oil producer forecast annual production to the lower end of its earlier outlook range.

Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Rashmi Aich

Source: Reuters

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