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London's FTSE 100 subdued, IWG lifts midcaps

A financial trader works at their desk at CMC Markets in the City of London, Britain, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

By Muvija M

(Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 was at a loss for direction on Monday as a dip in miners and oil majors offset gains in bank stocks, while office group IWG pushed midcaps higher after announcing an asset sale.

The blue-chip index ended a lacklustre session about flat, lagging its European peers, while the FTSE 250 held on to its six-month high with a 0.5 percent rise as a stronger pound also aided.

The pound's gains followed upbeat comments from Britain's foreign minister Jeremy Hunt on talks between the government and the opposition Labour Party to find a consensus over Brexit.

Miners, which last week scaled seven-year highs, handed back some of those gains with a 1.5 percent fall, despite a rise in copper prices as data from China showed higher unwrought copper imports in March.

Supply concerns and hopes of a U.S.-China trade resolution also supported metal prices.

CMC Markets analyst David Madden said there did not appear to be any major shift in sentiment and investors seemed to take their profits out of metal stocks.

Shell and BP extended losses following a dip in oil prices.

Financial stocks jumped to a six-month high, bolstered by a read-across from last week's upbeat results from U.S. bellwethers JP Morgan and Wells Fargo, and strong bank loan data from China.

But the sectoral index pared some gains as quarterly revenues reported by U.S. big banks Goldman Sachs and Citigroup fell below Wall Street expectations on Monday.

"Traders will be keeping a close eye on ... whether the strong start (to U.S. earnings) is able to continue beyond the banking sector ... right now this is looking unlikely," London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler said.

Compass Group, the world's biggest catering firm, slipped 2.2 percent on its worst day in six months after a Barclays rating cut.

Midcaps saw some strong news-related moves.

Serviced office space provider IWG surged 21.1 percent to a two-year high after plans to sell its Japanese operations for 320 million pounds and a double upgrade from Credit Suisse on the stock.

After being pummelled last week on U.S. charges over opioid prescriptions, drugmaker Indivior enjoyed its best day in three years as brokerage Bernstein suggested that the $3 billion headline fine had the potential to be reduced.

Shares in Indivior jumped 19.1 percent on the prospect.

Mediterranean-focused Energean Oil & Gas jumped 8.5 percent to a record high after announcing a new gas discovery at the Karish North exploration well.

Builder Kier added nearly 8 percent as it said its newly appointed CEO planned to cut debt and respond to problems affecting the outsourcing industry.


(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong and Muvija M in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Samantha Machado; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)