UK stocks kick off week lower, Entain drops to over 2-1/2-year low

By Johann M Cherian

(Reuters) -UK stocks opened lower on Monday, in a grim start to the last week of the quarter, while Ladbrokes owner Entain tumbled to a more than two-and-a-half year low after warning of a decline in online gaming sales.

Entain plummeted 10.4% after saying it expects online net gaming revenue for the third quarter and full year to decline amid ongoing regulatory issues in Britain and slower growth in Australia and Italy.

The travel and leisure index that houses the gambling firm dropped 3.0%.

“Increased regulatory headwinds in the UK are weighing on its revenues,” said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.”The gambling firm has also been grappling with weakness in Italy and Australia as well as weaker sports margins because of adverse sporting results.”

Broadly, the exporter focussed FTSE 100 fell 0.5%, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 slid 0.9%.

Industrial miners were top losers, falling 2.3% as copper prices took a hit on demand concerns in the face of prolonged tightness in credit conditions and China property worries. [MET/L]

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca rose 1.4% to a more than one-month high after a Jefferies upgrade.

With a week left for the end of the third quarter, both the FTSE indexes are headed for gains as investors took comfort from signs of cooling inflation that prompted the Bank of England to steer clear of an interest rate hike last week.

“It’s generally accepted that they’re (BoE) not out of the woods yet, but it was a positive sign from a market’s point of view to see an end to that consecutive raising of interest rates, said Christopher Peters, trading floor manager at Accendo Markets.

Among other movers, Aviva lost 0.9% after the life insurer said it agreed to acquire the UK protection business of AIG for 460 million pounds ($562.8 million).

The life insurance sector housing the firm was off 1.4%.

($1 = 0.8172 pounds)

(Reporting by Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Sohini Goswami and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)