March 13, 2018 / 9:28 AM / 3 months ago

UK shares weighed down by disappointing earnings, eyes on US data

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* FTSE 100 flat; mid caps down 0.4

* Warning hammers Greencore; TC ICAP down on profit miss

* Antofagasta gains after raising dividend

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN, March 13 (Reuters) - Disappointing earnings updates among mid caps weighed on UK shares on Tuesday as investors awaited U.S. inflation data for clues on the speed on interest rate hikes in the world’s biggest economy.

The FTSE was flat by 0901 GMT, while the mid cap index fell 0.4 percent, dragged by a plunge in Greencore shares after the food manufacturer cut its 2018 profit guidance due to issues at its US business.

Investec placed its forecasts and price target under review, noting that even though commercial developments gave the group confidence that the financial performance will improve through into FY19 this was late then management had originally expected.

Greencore was down 22 percent, the biggest faller among mid caps and set its biggest one-day loss ever.

Still among mid caps, TC ICAP fell 5.6 percent after annual profits at the world’s largest interdealer broker fell short of analyst expectations.

“We believe various additional costs associated with MiFiD II and ongoing investment account for the shortfall,” Liberum said in a note.

On the FTSE, however, Antofagasta rose 2.7 percent following a well-received trading update.

The Chilean miner Antofagasta reported a sharp rise in full-year earnings thanks to higher copper prices and said it would raise its dividend by 177 percent.

In the the heavyweight mining sector, Glencore and Randgold both rose 1.6 percent, helping the FTSE offset weakness among consumer staple stocks.

Direct Line was the biggest faller on the FTSE with a downgrade at Deutsche Bank to hold from buy sending its shares d own 1.6 percent.

Elsewhere, tonic water maker Fevertree Drinks fell 4 percent after hitting a record high in the previous session as a 64 percent jump in full-year core earnings failed to excite investors.

Later in the session, investors will also keep an eye on finance minister’s half-yearly update on the public finances. Philip Hammond is expected to announce an improvement in the country’s slow economic growth outlook but no policy tweak is expected.

“Mr Hammond’s speech will be very short... because he will only acknowledge and welcome the improved forecasts but will not make any policy changes,” said Societe Generale economists. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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