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FTSE 100 gains on weaker pound, jump in BAT shares

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* FTSE 100 up 0.7%, FTSE 250 down 1.1%

March 19 (Reuters) - The FTSE 100 edged higher in a choppy start on Thursday, supported by a jump in the shares of tobacco company BAT and a weaker pound as London braced for a virtual shutdown due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The internationally focussed FTSE 100 rose 0.7% by 0827 GMT, as exporters benefitted from a plunge in sterling to its lowest level since March 1985.

British American Tobacco climbed 3.7% after it said the outbreak has not had any material impact, while shares of other blue-chip companies including Diageo, BP and Unilever rose more than 3%.

The FTSE mid-cap index dropped 1.1% as domestic businesses struggled after Prime Minister Boris Johnson mulled tougher measures, including closing of underground train stations across the capital and ordering the closure of schools.

Luxury brand Burberry Group gained 2.8% after warning that sales in the final weeks of March would plunge by around 70% to 80% compared to last year, but is mulling cost-cutting to deal with the crisis. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)