British blue-chip stocks ended slightly in the red on Thursday, following a three-day move higher. The London benchmark was led down by a double-digit plunge in shares of British Gas parent Centrica PLC after a disappointing financial update. Traders continued to ponder the Autumn Budget presented Wednesday by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, which included downgrades to the government’s forecasts for U.K. economic growth. The FTSE 100 index ended down 1.8 point at 7,417.24, but finished off session lows. The financial and utilities sectors closed lower, but tech and consumer goods stocks led advancers. The London benchmark had risen 0.5% over the previous three sessions to an almost two-week high. The gauge is up 3.8% for the year, lagging the StoxxEurope 600’s rise of 7.1% and the U.S. S&P 500’s rally of 16%. The pound changed hands at $1.3301, down from $1.3324 late Wednesday in New York. The currency is up about 0.6% for the week, stretching its year-to-date gain to nearly 8%. It remains well below the $1.50 level that it hit just before the U.K.’s June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, or Brexit.
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