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* FTSE 100 steadies
* Set for modest weekly gain
* Banks remain weak
By Helen Reid
LONDON, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Britain's major stock index
steadied on Friday at the end of a busy week of central bank
meetings, with financials sagging again while BT was boosted by
a deal with Sky.
The FTSE 100 inched around 0.1 percent lower in line
with mid- and small-cap indices. The leading companies index was
set for a small gain on the week, having hit its highest level
in a month on Wednesday.
Financials weighed heaviest, continuing their slide from the
previous session as investors' building enthusiasm around bank
stocks - expected to gain from U.S. tax reform and rising
interest rates - dissipated.
Thursday's Bank of England and ECB meetings made clear that
at least for the European region lenders would have longer to
wait for monetary policy to tighten.
"It's hardly new news that the central banks are telling us
again that stimulus withdrawals are going to be very gradual,"
said Ian Williams, economist and strategist at Peel Hunt.
"The long-term trend in rates will be up, but I think it's
going to take a long time so the financials are responding the
most to that," he added.
HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays
fell 0.6, 0.9 and 1.4 percent, the top drags to the
BT rose 1.1 percent after striking a deal with Sky
to carry each other's channels.
Domestic stocks were a touch weaker, as investors awaited
the fallout from the second day of the EU summit.
High-street stalwart Next traded 1.4 percent lower,
while housebuilders Ashtead, Persimmon and
Barratt Developments were down 0.9 to 1.4 percent.
Utilities gained as investors moved into more defensive
With few large stock moves to puncture calm trading, broker
ratings drove Glencore and Segro higher.
JP Morgan analysts upgraded Glencore to
'overweight', boosting the stock up 0.9 percent.
Analysts at the bank said: "Growth, capital discipline and
valuations support higher beta."
Commercial real estate investment trust Segro
gained 1.5 percent after Liberum upgraded to 'buy', citing
greater growth in the industrial sector around London.
"Investment demand for industrial estate continues to drive
strong capital growth," said Liberum analysts.
"We expect full-year results to confirm sustained strong
occupier demand supporting like-for-like rental growth and
development completions," they added.
Small-cap electrical components firm Luceco sank
37 percent after the firm said the group's financial controller
resigned as a result of an accounting error.
The gap between winners and losers in UK stocks has widened
recently, investors said.
"Investors are definitely focusing on the stocks that are
displaying positive earnings momentum, " said Peel Hunt's
"Although they are chuntering a bit about valuation, being
expensive hasn't really been a barrier to outperformance."
Overall on the FTSE 100, analysts have persistently been
revising earnings expectations lower.
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)
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