LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's top share index retreated from a one-month high on Thursday, weighed down by a fall among oil firms and those trading ex-dividend, while mid-cap engineer Cobham (>> Cobham plc) slumped after results.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index <.FTSE> ended the day down 0.4 percent at 7,273.95 points, in line with a broader decline among European indexes. The FTSE dropped 28.46 points, of which 27.64 were due to ex-divs, according to Reuters calculations.
A number of heavyweight companies dropped after trading without entitlement to their latest dividend payout. AstraZeneca (>> AstraZeneca plc), BP (>> BP plc), Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> and Imperial Brands (>> Imperial Brands PLC) all fell between 1.2 percent to 3.4 percent.
Oil & gas <.FTNMX0530> and auto & parts <.FTNMX3350> stocks were the biggest weights on the index. Shares in Anglo American (>> Anglo American plc) and Antofagasta (>> Antofagasta plc) fell 2 to 2.2 percent as the price of copper eased. [MET/L]
The mid-cap index <.FTMC> snapped its seven-day winning streak, closing down 0.7 percent and off Wednesday's record high, due to dramatic results-driven moves. Engineering firm Cobham (>> Cobham plc) closed down 15.1 percent to seal its second-worst ever day, after yet another profit warning.
Cobham took a 150 million pound sterling charge on a troubled contract with Boeing, leading it to downgrade its 2016 profit target.
Drax Group (>> Drax Group Plc) also fell, down 5.3 percent after reporting a disappointing set of results, with its core annual earnings falling 17 percent on weaker power prices and the loss of revenue from a green energy scheme.
However, a profit beat propelled Lancashire Holding's (>> Lancashire Holdings Limited) shares 8.7 percent. The property and casualty insurer posted a better-than-expected 2016 profit, helped by lower expenses and higher gains in the final quarter.
Challenger banks were also top mid-cap gainers after a Panmure Gordon note initiated rating on a handful of the lenders, which use new technology to erode traditional banks' customer base.
OneSavings Bank (>> OneSavings Bank PLC), Shawbrook (>> Shawbrook Group PLC) and Aldermore (>> Aldermore Group PLC) were up 1.8 to 3 percent after Panmure analysts gave them a "buy" rating.
"As large UK banks focus on cost reduction and commoditised price sensitive mainstream lending, the specialist lenders are filling the gap in those lending markets which require greater sophistication and bespoke service," said analysts in a note.
On the small-cap index <.FTSC>, Laura Ashley shares (>> Laura Ashley Holdings plc) sank 10.7 percent to post their worst day in nearly six years, after the fashion and homeware retailer warned its full-year profit would miss targets.
The shares were through 16 times their average 30-day volume by market close.
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and Angus MacSwan)
By Kit Rees and Helen Reid
Stocks treated in this article : Laura Ashley Holdings plc
, AstraZeneca plc
, Antofagasta plc
, Cobham plc
, Lancashire Holdings Limited
, Drax Group Plc
, Anglo American plc
, BP plc
, Imperial Brands PLC
, OneSavings Bank PLC
, Aldermore Group PLC
, Shawbrook Group PLC