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British Mid-Caps Fall as No-Deal Brexit Fears Weigh

* Britain begins fresh rounds of Brexit trade talks

* Homebuilders lead declines as Travis Perkins profit slumps

* FTSE 100, FTSE 250 both off 0.3%

By Shashank Nayar

Sept 8 (Reuters) - London’s mid-cap FTSE 250 fell on Tuesday on mounting fears that the UK would exit the European Union without a trade agreement, while International Personal Finance tumbled 16% after the doorstep lender warned of ‘going concern’ risks.

Britain began a fresh round of Brexit trade talks by warning the EU that it was ramping up preparations to leave the bloc without an agreement as the two sides bicker over rules that govern nearly $1 trillion in trade.

International Personal said there is a “material uncertainty” around its ability to continue as a ‘going concern’ after posting a half-yearly loss and given the upcoming maturity of a eurobond.

The domestically focussed FTSE 250, a barometer for Brexit sentiment, was down 0.3% following its best session in a month on Monday.

Bellwether stocks including homebuilders were among the biggest decliners, also pressured by a 5.9% plunge for Travis Perkins, Britain’s largest distributor of building materials, as its profit sank 81% in the first half of the year.

The export-heavy FTSE 100 lost 0.3%.

“The FTSE 250 has been hit majorly due to weakness in builders, especially after Travis Perkin’s weak earnings update, while the market has already factored in a no-deal Brexit,” said Keith Temperton, a sales trader at Forte Securities.

UK equity markets are already reeling from the COVID-19 crisis that has set the domestic economy on course for its worst recession in 300 years.

The FTSE 250 has bounced about 42% since the coronavirus-driven crash in March, but is still well below its pre-pandemic record highs. The blue-chip FTSE 100 is only about 2% above the levels it traded at during the Brexit referendum in 2016.

In earnings-driven news, Britain’s largest sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion surged 7.7% to a seven-month high after reinstating its annual outlook.

Data analytics firm Experian jumped 2.9% after posting higher second-quarter revenue, while retailer Halfords fell 3.3% even as its underlying sales of cycling goods surged 59.1% in the 20 weeks ended Aug. 21.

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

Source: Reuters

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