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A worker shelters from the rain under a Union Flag umbrella as he passes the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain, October 1, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

FTSE, propped up by ECB, dips on Capita slump

WT24 Desk

UK shares fell on Thursday, breaking a three-day winning streak as shares in outsourcing firm Capita (CPI.L) tumbled on a profit warning, though with the ECB expected to extend its stimulus programme, underlying sentiment stayed positive,Reuters reports.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE was down 0.1 percent at 6,895.00 points by 1008 GMT, lagging its European peers but holding close to its highest level in one month.

Capita, the top faller, plunged 7.4 percent and hit its lowest since July 2006 after a second profit warning in three months, blaming Brexit-related client indecision. It said it would sell assets and trim costs to protect its balance sheet.

Outsourcing firms have been under pressure since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June. Shares in peer Mitie (MTO.L), which issued a second profit warning in November, fell 3.1 percent.

Several midcap firms also saw large losses. Disappointing results hit shares in sporting goods retailer Sports Direct (SPD.L), which dropped more than 8 percent. Its shares are down 50 percent so far in 2016, having been hit by a plunge in sterling following the Brexit vote as well as criticism over the treatment of its workers.

Betting companies William Hill (WMH.L) and Ladbrokes Coral Group (LCL.L) fell 8.7 percent and 7.2 percent following a media report about a clampdown on betting machines. Tour operator TUI (TUIT.L) rose 2 percent after extending its existing profit forecast for another year.

Advertiser WPP (WPP.L) rose 2.2 percent to top the blue chip index after an upgrade to “buy” from “hold” from Jefferies, whose analysts said they expected limited on the firm from a reported U.S. Justice Department investigation into the industry. The report knocked back WPP shares in the previous session.

Traders also focused on the European Central Bank’s policy meeting later in the day, in which it is expected to extend its asset buying programme. “We’re very bullish actually, especially with the ECB announcement today,” John Moore, trader at Berkeley Capital, said.

“We believe that they will be extending the quantitative easing for another six months, but (ECB President Mario Draghi) may even mention some additional measures … (and) we might see another push higher (on the index) to maybe 7,000 or 6,990.”



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