UK shares dragged lower by BAT, miners; Aston Martin skids

By Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M

Feb 28 () - London's blue-chip bourse bagged losses for a third straight day as results hurt packaging firm Mondi, miners fell on weak Chinese factory data and Rolls-Royce slipped after dropping out of the race to supply engines for Boeing's mid-market aircraft.

The FTSE 100 ended 0.5 percent lower while the more domestically focused FTSE 250 handed back the day's losses to be up 0.1 percent as Inmarsat jumped on M&A chatter.

Investor sentiment was grim as the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not reach an agreement at the end of two days of meetings. Data meanwhile showed factory activity in China shrank to a three-year low in February.

"... with hopes of a deal with China on trade not exactly fading, but certainly not rising, it's 0 from 2 for Trump this week and risk sentiment is suffering as a result," said analyst Neil Wilson.

Miners put the brake on the main index, suffering their biggest intra-day dip in two months, along with packaging and paper group Mondi, which slipped 6.3 percent after a cautious 2019 forecast.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce lost 3 percent after it withdrew from a competition to power Boeing's planned mid-market aircraft.

General insurer RSA also fell 3 percent as high weather-related losses and weakness in commercial underwriting hit its annual operating profit.

Outshining the main index was pest control firm Rentokil, which advanced 7 percent on its best day in nearly six years after higher annual profit.

On the midcaps, Inmarsat swiftly rose in afternoon trade following a media report that U.S. satellite group EchoStar was expected to renew its interest in the satellite communications company "very soon".

But readings from earnings reports were overall poor and drew some big moves.

Aston Martin marked the worst day in its short time as a publicly listed company as its annual adjusted earnings dropped. The downbeat results wiped more than a fifth off the luxury car-maker's market value.

Chief Executive Andy Palmer said a delay to Brexit would be a "further annoyance", which would prolong uncertainty.

Ready meals supplier Bakkavor slumped 10.3 percent on its worst day since its November 2017 listing after it flagged that subdued consumer confidence and inflationary pressures have continued into 2019.

In other moves, EasyJet, Barclays and Micro Focus all fell as the stocks traded ex-dividend.

Builder Telford Homes tumbled 20 percent after cutting its full-year forecast while mid-cap kitchen supplier Howden Joinery lost 7 percent -- its biggest drop in over 2-1/2 years -- after flagging higher costs and margin pressures.

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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