Politics

UK markets fall on Christmas eve, no Santa rally in sight

* FTSE 100 down 0.5 pct

* FTSE 250 down 0.8 pct

* Multinational stocks dip on weak dollar

* Mid-cap Playtech falls on profit warning (Adds company news items, analyst comment, updates share moves)

By Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi

Dec 24 (Reuters) - British shares dipped on Monday as worldstocks fell on reports that U.S. President Donald Trumpprivately discussed firing the head of the Federal Reserve and apartial U.S. government shutdown.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE was down 0.5 percent and the mid-capindex .FTMC was 0.8 percent lower, setting a bleak tone for aholiday-shortened week.

Weakness in the dollar weighed on companies with a greaterinternational presence, making them the biggest drags onBritain's main index .FTSE . HSBCHSBA.L slipped 1.1 percent,while GlaxoSmithKline GSK.L was 1 percent lower.

DiageoDGE.L , the world's biggest drinks marker, andconsumer goods giant Unilever ULVR.L were down by around 1percent, while tobacco firms Imperial BrandsIMB.L and BritishAmerican Tobacco BATS.L fell 2 percent and 0.6 percent,respectively.

Investors came back to oil stocks following sessions ofsteep losses in crude prices that hit oil companies. Shell RDSa.L and BP BP.L managed slight gains as oil prices roseon signs the price fall may start crimping supply from theUnited States. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1YT1B1O/R

Most global markets were hit following reports that Trumpdiscussed firing Fed chair Jerome Powell. However, U.S. TreasurySecretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet on Saturday that Trumphad told him he had "never suggested firing"Powell. MKTS/GLOBurn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1YR036

That added to nerves over a partial federal governmentshutdown as Democrats rejected Trump's demand for more funds fora wall on the border with Mexico.

British indexes are on track for their worst yearlyperformance since the 2008 financial crisis, as jitteryinvestors dumped shares amid concerns over Brexit, a slowdown inglobal economy, plunging oil prices and a trade spat betweenWashington and Beijing.

Britain's mid-cap index, which is more exposed to theoutcomes of Brexit, has lost more than 16 percent in theyear-to-date and is a little over 1 percent away from confirminga bear market with a 20 percent drop since its peak close inJune.

"If 2018 was the beginning of the end of the 10 year bullmarket, 2019 could well give stocks an additional shove to thedownside," CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said.

Among the few news-driven moves, mid-cap gambling softwarecompany PlaytechPTEC.L gave up 7 percent, after earlierhitting its lowest in over six years, as it flagged that achange in Italian gambling tax law would hit its 2019 coreearnings. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nFWN1YQ0Y4

Gambling companies GVC GVC.L , Paddy Power BetfairPPB.I and William HillWMH.L also fell between 0.6 percent and 2.1percent.

Shares in London Stock ExchangeLSE.L were among the toplosers on the main index with a 3.9 percent dip after exchangesgroup EuronextENX.PA announced plans to buy the owner of theOslo stock exchange for 625 million euros. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1YT1V1

Martin Sorrell'sS4 CapitalSFOR.L slipped nearly 3percent on its first trading day on the London Stock Exchange'smain market. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nASP00047L

Swimming against the tide, WhitbreadWTB.L added 1.3percent after it said the European Union approved its sale ofCosta coffee chain to Coca-Cola CoKO.N and announced a500-million-pound share buyback. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1YQ4TS

Muvija.M@thomsonreuters.com muvija.m.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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