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Britain's FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 equity indexes lose ground
October 12, 2016 / 9:21 AM / in a year

Britain's FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 equity indexes lose ground

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* FTSE 100 slips, but near record high hit on Oct. 11

* Sterling edges back up on currency markets

* FTSE 100 down around 6 pct in 2016 in dollar terms

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Britain’s index of leading shares slipped on Wednesday from record highs reached in the previous session, partly reflecting currency moves which weighed on some of its global companies

The blue-chip FTSE 100 equity index, which hit a record high of 7,129.83 points on Tuesday, fell 0.5 percent to 7,038.22 points. The FTSE 250 mid-cap index fell 0.4 percent but also remained near record highs reached this month.

The dollar dipped while sterling rebounded a touch from a brutal sell-off this month, as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s offer to give lawmakers some scrutiny of the process behind Britain’s plans to leave the European Union calmed market fears of a “hard Brexit”.

That dollar weakness weighed on FTSE 100 companies for whom much of their revenues are measured in dollar terms, such as pharmaceuticals group Shire and engineering group Rolls Royce, which both fell on Wednesday.

“I would not want to buy into the FTSE at these levels,” said Horizon Stockbroking director Kyri Kangellaris.

The slump in sterling, which remains under pressure due to concerns over Brexit, has been a key factor for the UK stock market as Britain’s most international firms stand to benefit from higher repatriated earnings and stronger exports.

The pound’s drop has boosted many of the FTSE 100’s international companies which earn much of their revenues in U.S. dollars, and therefore get a currency-related accounting lift as those dollars are converted back to pounds.

However, it has also impacted the U.S. dollar value of the FTSE 100 - a potential negative for international investors for whom the dollar is their benchmark reference, with the FTSE 100 down 6 percent so far in 2016 in U.S dollar terms.

A weaker pound can also hit UK consumer confidence, which often impacts UK small and medium-sized companies, although the FTSE 250 mid-cap index has been supported by corporate takeover activity and signs of British economic resilience following the Brexit vote in June.

Shares in UK mid-cap housebuilder Telford Homes rose on Wednesday after it said it had not changed its growth targets since the Brexit referendum.

Fidelity International fund manager Kevin O‘Nolan said he preferred the FTSE 100 to the FTSE 250 index.

“I have added a position favouring the FTSE 100 versus the 250. The 250 is more exposed to any slowdown in the domestic economy while the 100’s global companies benefit from the weakness in sterling and improving commodity prices,” he said. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Keith Weir)

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