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FTSE 100 drops on stronger pound; Melrose top loser

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FTSE 100 drops on stronger pound; Melrose top loser 1

By Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar

(Reuters) -London's FTSE 100 ended lower on Monday, dragged down by a stronger pound and as weaker oil prices weighed on energy firms, with Melrose the worst performer on the index after it decided to sell its air management unit.

The British engineer dropped 5.5% after it agreed to sell its Nortek Air Management business for about 2.62 billion pounds ($3.63 billion) and plans to use the proceeds to pay down debt, reduce a UK pension deficit and return cash to shareholders.

The blue-chip index closed 0.5% lower as the pound rose 1% to hit a one-month high against the dollar, while heavyweight energy shares ended 1.23% lower and were the top losers. [O/R]

"A pretty quiet trading day with a strong pound and weak oil stocks leading the blue chip index lower, but it doesn't really call for a sell-off headline as recovery optimism remains intact," said Keith Temperton, equity sales trader at Forte Securities.

With the FTSE 100 gaining 8.4% year-to-date and Britain's vaccine rollout continuing to progress, markets will have a chance to gauge the impact on the economy as employment data, retail sales, CPI, PPI, and flash April PMIs are all due this week.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index slipped 0.1% with oil and gas exploration company Energean being the top loser after its opertating loss widened.

Meanwhile, the number of people heading to shops across Britain jumped 87.8% last week as non-essential stores reopened after three months of COVID-19 lockdown, researcher Springboard said. Retail stocks ended flat.

The British outsourcer jumped 18.8% after U.S. private equity firm Siris Capital tabled a 624.3 million pounds ($864.59 million) bid in an all-cash deal. [nL4N2MC1KZ

Homebuilders dropped 0.4% even after property website Rightmove said advertised prices for homes in Britain hit a record high after finance minister Rishi Sunak stoked the market again by extending a tax-cut for home-buyers last month.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Alison Williams)

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