UK shares head south as Brexit worries rattle investors; Plus500 sinks
* FTSE 100 inches up 0.1 pct, European stocks up 0.9 pct
* FTSE 250 erases gains, down 0.2 percent
* Plus500 slumps after profit warning, drags down rival IG
Feb 12 (Reuters) - UK shares lagged their euro-zone peers onTuesday, as growing risks of a disorderly divorce from theEuropean Union rattled investors, while a profit warning fromonline trading platform Plus500 knocked the midcap index intothe red.
The mood soured on the main indices in choppy afternoontrade as Prime Minister Theresa May urged lawmakers to back herBrexit deal and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warnedagain of the economic damage if the country leaves the blocwithout a deal. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL5N207574
While the speeches did not contain any news, the commentsreinforced concerns about the protracted deadlock betweenParliament and Brussels.
The FTSE 100 .FTSE , which makes 70 percent of its incomeoverseas, was up 0.1 percent at 1447 GMT, after briefly fallinginto negative territory as sterling recouped some losses duringMay's speech.
Some of the biggest losers were companies exposed to thedomestic economy, such as pubs, supermarkets, utilities andhousebuilders, while gains were in oil majors, miners .FTNMX1770 and multinational banks like HSBC.
The domestically focused FTSE 250 .FTMC was down 0.2percent, erasing earlier gains with a plunge in Plus500PLUSP.L shares accounting for almost all the index's 31-pointdrop.
Optimism across euro zone markets about prospects forU.S.-China trade talks this week and a deal to avoid a U.S.government shutdown did little to help UK stocks, which are lesssensitive to the vagaries of trade tensions, traderssaid. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20614Curn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2060IA
"The Parliamentary speech and May's sparring with(Opposition Leader Jeremy) Corbyn show nothing's changed," saidMike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
"It all comes down to what she can convince Parliament toagree to. She has a tough sell at home and (is) hoping thatEurope blinks first."
A disruptive no deal Brexit remained the default outcome.
"There is continued optimism that some sort of a deal willbe reached even though we have no concrete reason to believethat is going to be the case," said CMC Markets analyst DavidMadden.
"Some people are suggesting that May is intentionallyrunning down the clock and trying to coerce some of her MPs intovoting for her deal just because it might be better thanno-deal," Madden added.
Investors were also bracing for more political turmoil afterThe Sun reported that May is preparing to resign this summershortly after delivering Brexit, which could trigger a generalelection. https://bit.ly/2BwWkzr
Among the biggest individual movers on the day was Plus500,which lost more than a third of its value after the onlinetrading platform blamed a regulatory crackdown for its profitand revenue warning. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2072F2
The stock was last down 30 percent, on track for its worstday in more than three-and-a-half years, and dragged rival IGGroup IGG.L down 5 percent.
Dragging the FTSE 100 down was tour operator TUI TUIT.LTUIGn.DE , which has slumped since a profit warning last week,was down 4 percent as its first-quarter underlying loss widened. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL9N1Y105P
Small-cap retailer DebenhamsDEB.L shot up 34 percentafter it secured additional funding from lenders as it strugglesto find a longer-term solution to its financial woes. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2072GI
"While this (refinancing) takes away the immediate pressureand provides a short respite, we believe Debenhams is likely tomove forward with a CVA (credit valuation adjustment) in orderto reduce its lease commitments and store numbers," said JohnStevenson, retail analyst at Peel Hunt. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Tanishaa Nadkar; Additionalreporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Josephine Masonand Susan Fenton) ((Shashwat.Awasthi@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S.+1 646 2233403; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 3403; Reuters Messaging:firstname.lastname@example.org))
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