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UK stocks slide as financials tank

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain

By Susan Mathew and Johann M Cherian

(Reuters) -London's blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended lower on Friday as UK lenders fell 4% in a global banking sector selloff and uncertainty on the outlook for interest rates further weighed on sentiment.

UK banks dropped to a nearly two-month low, while non-life insurers sank 3.5% to a four-month low, with investors spooked by U.S. regulators shutting down startup-focused lender SVB Financial Group on Friday.

"While it looks like this knee-jerk response (is) over done, it certainly isn’t wise to stand in the way of the avalanche of selling, which looks unlikely to reach an end soon," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG.

The FTSE 100 closed 1.7% down to over a one-month low, while the more domestically focused mid-cap index gave up 1.7% to hit a two-month low.

The FTSE blue-chip and mid-cap indexes logged their worst weekly performance since late September, weighed down by mixed economic data from China, fears of further central bank tightening and a global rout in the financial sector.

Meanwhile, data showed British economic output rose by a better-than-expected 0.3% month-on-month in January, bolstering bets that the Bank of England will raise interest rates again this month.

Looking ahead to next week, investors will be watching for UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's spring budget.

Among individual stocks, Amigo slumped 13.5% after the subprime lender said it was struggling to secure the additional 45 million pounds ($54 million) of capital from investors it had targeted as part of a court-approved rescue plan.

In a bright spot, FirstGroup rose 1.8% after the transport operator said profit for its current financial year would come in above forecasts.

Berkeley Group Holdings Plc added 0.1% after the homebuilder maintained its 2023 outlook but said it was cautious as sales fall amid volatility in the property market.

(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, editing by Deepa Babington)