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Banks, miners lead FTSE 100 lower

By Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) -London’s FTSE 100 fell for the fifth straight day, as a sharp drop in shares of NatWest weighed on the banking sector on Friday, while mining stocks lost ground tracking weaker copper prices.

The blue-chip index was down 0.5%, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 slipped 0.1%, as of 0714 GMT.

Lenders led losses, down 2.2%. NatWest fell 5.9% despite reporting better-than-expected quarterly profit.

“Even though the results are really good … the net interest margin is a bit disappointing,” said Andrew Jones, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson

People had hoped for a bit more, and they really focus on that for a bank, as interest rates have gone up for the first time in a long time.

Base metal miners added to the pressure on FTSE 100, down 1.8% and were on track for their biggest weekly drop in a month. [MET/L]

On the bright side, life insurers rose 0.3%, led by a 1.3% rise in Prudential after posting a 30% jump in new business profit.

The FTSE 100 is poised to gain 2.1% for the month despite a volatile week amid a burst of earnings, supported by defensive sectors including pharmaceuticals and consumer staples.

Pearson rose 3.4% after the education group said it was on track to meet its annual guidance, and also deliver 120 million pounds ($150 million) of cost efficiencies this year.

Numis Corp surged 67.2% after Deutsche Bank said it would buy the London-based institutional stockbroker and corporate advisor for about 410 million pounds.

Meanwhile, British businesses were their most optimistic in nearly a year in April, boosted by growing hopes about the economy, according to a Lloyds Bank survey.

(Reporting by Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema and Nivedita Bhattahacharjee)

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