February 23, 2018 / 10:20 AM / 10 months ago

IAG, RBS drops put FTSE 100 on course for weekly loss

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* FTSE 100 down 0.2 pct

* IAG, RBS results weigh

* BT leads after new Ofcom broadband rules

* SLA to sell insurance unit to Phoenix

By Kit Rees

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The UK’s top share index took a knock on Friday after bank RBS and airline operator IAG tumbled following their results, putting the FTSE 100 on track for a slight weekly loss.

Britain’s blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.2 percent at 7,240.07 points by 1002 GMT, while mid caps gained 0.2 percent.

A number of big, earnings-driven falls weighed on the blue chips.

“We are emerging from a situation where the recovery was almost like easy pickings,” Ken Odeluga, market analyst at City Index, said.

“As we enter a period where all of that has passed, the companies are stronger, the outlook for growth is a lot more tenuous,” Odeluga added.

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland were the biggest fallers, down 4.5 percent and on track for their biggest one-day drop in nearly one year after the bank reported its full year results.

While RBS posted its first profit in a decade, analysts flagged higher-than-expected restructuring costs and a large misconduct fine.

IAG was another big faller, down more than 4 percent after the British Airways operator reported annual figures.

Analysts at Liberum said that while IAG’s results were in line with their forecasts, revenue was a little light and fuel costs came in worse than expected.

However, Pearson’s update was well-received by investors, with shares in the educational publisher rising more than 1 percent.

Pearson has been grappling with the switch to digital from paper textbooks, issuing a series of profit warnings along the way.

Analysts at Investec said that while they were encouraged by certain aspects such as Pearson’s cost savings and double-digit digital sales, Pearson has yet to prove itself in terms of its new generation of digital personalised learning products.

A rise in BT’s shares led the index, however, with the telco up 3.8 percent after UK regulator Ofcom unveiled new rules on the roll-out of full-fibre broadband, saying that it would not regulate the prices of BT’s Openreach superfast broadband products.

Elsewhere deal-making was in focus, with shares in mid cap Phoenix Group rising more than 5 percent to the top of the index after Standard Life Aberdeen agreed to sell the bulk of its insurance unit to Phoenix Group, Britain’s largest owner of closed life assurance funds.

SLA’s shares gained 3.1 percent, helped also by its broadly in-line full year results.

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Peter Graff

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