The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain

Miners, banks drag FTSE 100 lower, Playtech slumps

By Shashank Nayar

(Reuters) -London’s FTSE 100 ended lower on Friday, pulled down by heavyweight mining stocks and banks, while tepid retail sales and rate-hike expectations further dampened investor sentiment.

The blue-chip FTSE index dropped 1.2%, and ended the week lower after delivering four consecutive weekly gains, with HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group, BHP Group, Rio Tinto, and Anglo American among the top drags.

BHP dropped 3.2% after its investors in London and Sydney approved plans to scrap dual listings in favour of a main listing in Sydney, while Rio Tinto fell 2.2% after Serbia pulled the plug on its $2.4 billion lithium project over environmental concerns.

Retail stocks fell 1.6% after UK retail sales slumped by 3.7% in December from a month earlier, official data showed.

“Two-thirds of adults are reporting that the cost of living has increased over the past four weeks, and with more energy price rises on the way there are likely to be far fewer shoppers merrily splashing the cash in the months to come,” said Susannah Streeter, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The FTSE 100 has come under pressure this week amid weakness in heavyweight stocks such as Unilever and a 0.5% drop in banking shares, while still outperforming the wider STOXX 600 index.

Adding to concerns were expectations that the Bank of England will press ahead with its tightening cycle in February as red-hot inflation runs well ahead of target, a Reuters poll showed.

Meanwhile, BoE policymaker Catherine Mann said the central bank needs to lean against inflation pressures and stop expectations of higher price growth from getting entrenched in medium-term wage and pricing decisions.

The domestically focussed midcap index lost 2.0% with gambling software maker Playtech leading losses, down 20.7%, after former Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan’s JKO Play pulled out of a potential bid to buy the firm.

Restaurant Group gained 1.2% after the Wagamama owner said it expects full-year profit at the top end of its forecast.

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar and Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Shounak Dasgupta and David Evans)