Britain's FTSE edges down, set for worst week in over five months


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    * FTSE 100 down 0.1 pct
    * Blue-chips set for worst week since November
    * Reckitt Benckiser weighs after Q1 sales miss
    * Marks & Spencer rises to pre-Brexit vote levels
    * WS Atkins hits all-time high on Canadian buyout

    By Helen ReidLONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - British shares inched lower on
Friday, set for their worst weekly losses since early November
after Tuesday's surprise call for an national election caused
equities to fall.
    The FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was down 0.1 percent on the day,
weighed by consumer goods stocks while miners gained.
    Prime Minister Theresa May called the early vote for June 8,
sending sterling higher and erasing year-to-date gains for the
    "The FTSE has obviously had a terrible week - although
corporate earnings have been somewhat of a mixed bag, the snap
election, while providing medium term stability for Brexit
negotiations, has created some short term market uncertainty,"
said Mark Ward, head of execution trading at Sanlam Securities.
    Mid-caps <.FTMC> and small-caps <.FTSC> maintained their
outperformance on the day. They have gained 7.3 and 6 percent
respectively this year.
    "People have been reaching for the UK domestic stocks, but
there's reasons to be quite cautious there still," said Eric
Moore, head of Miton's UK Income fund.
    "The UK consumer is still under the cosh. Consumption has
held up quite well but it's supported by things that are
unsustainable in the long run," he added. [nL8N1HL3F8]
    Retail sales figures out Friday showed the biggest quarterly
fall in seven years for the first quarter, as rising prices
started to squeeze consumers. [nL9N0FN02R]
    Miners led large-cap gains, with Glencore, Anglo American,
Antofagasta and Rio Tinto up 1.7 to 2.4 percent. Defence firm
Babcock gained 3.1 percent.
    Consumer staples stocks were top weights, with Reckitt
Benckiser <RB.L> the top loser, down 1.5 percent after its
first-quarter sales disappointed due to weak markets in Europe
and North America. [nL8N1HT0SW]
    "while the market was prepared for a weak quarter, Reckitt
Benckiser is the only EU Food/HPC company so far to miss on
undemanding like-for-like expectations," said UBS analysts.
    Peer Unilever <ULVR.L> also fell 1 percent.
    A thumbs-up from Barclays boosted Marks & Spencer <MKS.L>
shares up 1.3 percent, taking the retailer back to its
pre-Brexit vote levels for the first time. [nL8N1HT1HU]
    Barclays opened coverage of the stock with an "overweight"
rating, saying a shift towards food, and management's plan to
overhaul its clothing and home segment, would drive growth.
    "M&S cannot avoid industry headwinds but its older and
wealthier customer base may be helpful," Barclays analysts said.
    "We expect Food to account for 64 percent of UK sales in
2020, rising steadily from 52 percent in 2010."
    Merger moves continued to move stocks, and mid-cap WS Atkins
<ATKW.L> rose 5.1 percent to an all-time high after Canadian
engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group <SNC.TO> firmed up its $2.67
billion offer to buy the firm. [nL8N1HT169]
    Phone and broadband provider TalkTalk <TALK.L> gained 4.3
percent after HSBC upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold",
saying the government's Wholesale Local Access review was good
news for TalkTalk which could benefit from lower input

 (Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Alison Williams)
 ((; +44 20 7542 7748;))

For related prices, Reuters users may click on - *
 UK stock report     [.L]
 FTSE index:         <0#.FTS6>
 techMARK 100 index: <.FTT1X>         FTSE futures:     <0#FFI:>
 Gilt futures:       <0#FLG:>         Smallcap index:    <.FTSC>
 FTSE 250 index:     <.FTMC>          FTSE 350 index:    <.FTLC>
 Market digest:      <.AD.L>          Top 10 by vol:     <.AV.L>
 Top price gainers:  <.NG.L>          Top % gainers:     <.PG.L>
 Top price losers:   <.NL.L>          Top % losers:      <.PL.L>

 * For related news, click on - *
 UK hot stocks:      [HOT and GB]     Wall Street:          [.N]
 Gilts report:       [GB/]            Euro bond report [GVD/EUR]
 Pan European stock report: [.EU]
 Tokyo stocks:       [.T]             HK stocks:           [.HK]
 Sterling report:    [GBP/]           Dollar report:      [USD/]

 * For company prices, click on - *
 Company directory:  <UKEQ>          By sector:          <FTAX>

 * For pan-European market data, click on - *
 European Equities speed guide................ <EUR/EQUITY>
 FTSE Eurotop 300 index........................... <.FTEU3>
 DJ STOXX index................................... <.STOXX>
 Top 10 STOXX sectors........................ <.PGL.STOXXS>
 Top 10 EUROSTOXX sectors................... <.PGL.STOXXES>
 Top 10 Eurotop 300 sectors.................. <.PGL.FTEU3S>
 Top 25 European pct gainers.................... <.PG.PEUR>
 Top 25 European pct losers..................... <.PL.PEUR>))


This article appears in: Stocks , World Markets , Politics
Referenced Symbols: ATKW , MKS , RB , TALK , ULVR

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