Barclays, Smith+Nephew drag FTSE 100 down

(Reuters) – The FTSE 100 dipped on Thursday as glum earnings reports from Smith+Nephew and Barclays underscored the hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, with focus turning to the government’s plan to lift a nationwide lockdown and kick-start economic growth.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The FTSE 100 was down 0.3%, led by declines in healthcare and financial stocks, while a stronger pound also weighed. [GBP/]

Barclays fell almost 4% after the lender’s 2020 annual profit halved.

“I think the UK market is being cautious ahead of the road out of lockdown 3.0, with concerns around the pace and obstacles in the way to get out of the current set of restrictions,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx.

England’s third national COVID-19 lockdown is helping reduce infections, a study found, but the prevalence of cases remains high as Prime Minister Boris Johnson eyes a cautious route to re-opening the economy.

The FTSE 100 has recovered nearly 35% from its March 2020 lows and is now 12% below its peak last year, led by stimulus support.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index rose 0.2% on Thursday.

Smith+Nephew fell 5.3% to the bottom of the blue-chip index after warning that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue into the first half of 2021 and posting a drop in annual trading profit.

Indivior fell 2.6% after the opioid addiction treatment maker predicted 2021 revenue would slip on a difficult first-half and posted an annual revenue decline of 18%.

Moonpig gained 5.4% after the online greeting card retailer said it expects full-year revenue to almost double.

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