Politics

FTSE 100 dips on sluggish euro zone PMI, Unilever sparkles

* FTSE 100 down 0.2 pct; FTSE 250 down 0.1 pct

* Unilever gains on upbeat sales

* Ex-dividend trading drags several stocks lower (There will be no UK stock market report on Friday and Mondayon account of Easter holiday. Reuters will resume coverage onTuesday, April 23)

April 18 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 retreated slightlyon Thursday after downbeat euro zone PMI data and as investorsbooked profits before the long Easter weekend.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE was down 0.2 percent and the FTSE 250 .FTMC dropped 0.1 percent. Despite being in the red thissession, both indexes ended the week in positive territory.

"What's clear from today's PMI numbers is that there are asyet no green shoots of spring for the euro zone," Markets.comanalyst Neil Wilson said.

Euro zone business activity barely grew in April as demandwas sluggish even though prices rose modestly, surveys showed.Germany's Purchasing Managers' Index suggested a contractionamong manufacturers in Europe's largest economy would continuefor a few more months at least.

"If Europe is still struggling, then we're not going to seeany significant pick-up in UK stocks, certainly not the moreglobal ones, because we need to sell them stuff," CMC Marketsanalyst Michael Hewson said.

Unilever ULVR.L was a stand-out gainer, rising 2.9 percentto levels not seen in a year and a half on the back ofstronger-than-expected quarterly sales.

Jefferies analysts called the quarter a "decent start" tothe year.

The FTSE 100 was dragged lower by AstraZenecaAZN.L andGlaxoSmithKline GSK.L , which fell following a sell-off in U.S.healthcare stocks over regulatory worries on Wednesday.

British American TobaccoBATS.L shed 1.4 percent andImperial Brands IMB.L gave up 0.8 percent after U.S. SenateMajority leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to introducelegislation to raise the minimum age for buying tobaccoproducts.

Britain's biggest defence company BAE SystemsBAES.L ,which was trading ex-dividend, lost 3.8 percent.

Oil majors Shell RDSa.L and BP BP.L dropped on the FTSE100, while PetrofacPFC.L tumbled 10.8 percent on the mid-capindex. O/R

The FTSE 250 was also dragged down by stocks tradingex-dividend. Motor insurer Hastings HSTG.L and power producerDrax DRX.L were among the worst performers.

But price comparison website Moneysupermarket.comMONY.L and cybersecurity firm Avast AVST.L jumped 4.3 percent and 5.8percent, respectively, after their first-quarter revenueclimbed.

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