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Britain's FTSE dips on Korean worries as financials, housebuilders take a hit
September 6, 2017 / 8:58 AM / 3 months ago

Britain's FTSE dips on Korean worries as financials, housebuilders take a hit

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* FTSE 100 down 0.4 pct

* Financials weigh on the index

* Housebuilder Barratt leads index lower

By Julien Ponthus

LONDON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - UK shares opened lower on Wednesday along with other European bourses, following the path set by Asia and Wall Street where market sentiment was hit by simmering geopolitical tensions in the Korean peninsula.

At 0810 GMT, Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 was down 0.36 percent at 7,346.74 points, with financials taking the most points off.

“Stock markets were rattled by suggestions that an intercontinental ballistic missile had been moved to the west coast of North Korea and that the leadership might conduct a weapon test around 9 September, when the country celebrates its founding day,” Credit Suisse said in a morning note.

Standard Chartered was the second biggest loser on the index with a 2.2 percent fall, while HSBC, Barclays , Lloyds all fell between 0.4 and 0,7 percent.

Life insurers Prudential and Old Mutual were both down about 1.2 percent and Provident PFG.L, which was the biggest FTSE faller on Tuesday, was down 1.4 percent.

Britain’s biggest housebuilder, Barratt Developments , sustained the most losses, with a 4.3 percent fall, as it said during its results it would continue to monitor “carefully” the impact of Brexit on its business.

Analysts at Liberum said some investors could be disappointed by Barratt’s lack of an update on its gross margin target.

“(Barratt‘s) shares are our least preferred in the sector as its relatively lower margins make it more exposed to downside risk, and its relatively short landbank and high land creditors mean that it has less scope to reduce cash outflows in support of the dividend than the other returners,” they said in a note.

Peer Berkeley, whose shares took a 3.4 percent hit, said the London property market continued to be impacted by uncertainty surrounding Brexit and a property tax hike. Other companies in the sector were also retreating, with Taylor Wimpey down 1.1 percent.

Royal Mail was down 0.8 percent after Britain’s Communications Workers Union (CWU) said it would ballot more than 100,000 of its members over industrial action.

Easyjet was down 0.5 percent at 1150p after HSBC cut its target price to 1550p from 1600p.

Glaxosmithkline was down 0.7 percent after Credit Suisse cut its target price to 1725p from 1775p.

Micro Focus shares surged 8.1 percent and were by far the best performing stock on the British blue chip index after its third quarter results.

Editing by Catherine Evans

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