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* FTSE 100 down 0.3 pct
* Sainsbury's among top fallers after profit decline
* Materials, energy biggest sectoral weights
* Direct Line buoyed by solid update
MILAN, May 3 Britain's top share index fell on
Wednesday, weighed down by weaker commodity stocks, while
supermarket Sainsbury's dropped after an underwhelming
The blue chip FTSE 100 fell 0.2 percent at 7,235.60
points by 0916 GMT, broadly in line with slight losses seen
elsewhere in Europe.
Sainsbury's was among the biggest blue chip fallers, down
1.9 percent, after the company reported a third straight year of
underlying profit decline, despite the boost to earnings from
last year's purchase of Argos, the general merchandise retailer.
"Not a great set of numbers from Sainsbury's this morning
but largely in line with expectations," said Neil Wilson, senior
market analyst at ETX Capital in London.
"While the core brand seems to be struggling and losing
ground to rivals, recently-acquired Argos is delivering the top
line growth that keeps the group above water," he added.
Sainsbury's, which trails market leader Tesco TSCO.L in
annual sales, cautioned that it saw no let-up in the intensely
competitive UK market any time soon.
Biggest sectoral weights to the FTSE were materials and
energy, which wiped around 15 points off the index.
Heavyweight miners Glencore and BHP Billiton
both dropped over 2 percent, after copper prices fell as
the dollar ticked higher on expectations the Federal Reserve
will signal a June rate rise later in the session.
BP was the biggest drag to the index with a 0.9
percent fall that following strong gains it made in the previous
session following a better than expected earnings update.
Among the gainers was Direct Line, up 2.2 percent,
after the motor and home insurer reported a 4.2 percent rise in
gross written premiums in the first quarter, boosted by strong
performance in its auto business.
British equities were little moved by data showing growth in
the country's construction industry accelerated in April, adding
to tentative signs that the economy might be recovering a little
momentum after a lacklustre start to 2017.
British mid caps also continued to trade in the red and were
down 0.7 percent.
But Mitie outperformed, up 8 percent, after the pest
control company reported steady revenues and unveiled the
results of a review of its accounts.
Construction group Galliford Try fell 9 percent
after the company warned on charges for construction business.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Janet Lawrence)