The FTSE 100 is treading water as investors take a breather from 2 days of heavy losses

LONDON — Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 is treading water on Thursday as investors take stock following two days of heavy losses since Prime Minister Theresa May called for a general election.

By 8.40 a.m. BST (3.40 a.m. ET) the FTSE is virtually unmoved from its closing price on Wednesday, trading down by less than one point, or 0.01% at 7,113 points.

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On Wednesday, the FTSE dropped into negative territory for the year, falling below its opening price of 7,142 on January 1 this year, despite having set several record highs earlier in the year. That came after a loss of close to 2.5% on Tuesday, and another 0.5% fall on Wednesday.

Thursday’s drop comes against a background of caution in the wider global equity markets, with FXTM Research Analyst Lukman Otunuga noting in a morning email that “European markets are expected to open slightly pressured as investors observe from a safe distance.”

“This sense of caution could potentially limit gains on Wall Street. With the Trump rally losing momentum and geopolitical tensions weighing on global sentiment, stock markets are in desperate need of inspiration to fuel the bull rally,” he added.

On a stock-by-stock basis, the FTSE’s biggest losers on the day so far include, shopping centre provider Intu Properties, which has dropped 4.3% after passing its ex-dividend date for the year. Defence firm BAE Systems has also dropped after going ex-dividend, falling 2%.

Ex-dividendmeans that anyone buying shares in the company between now and the end of its financial year will not receive a dividend, and instead that dividend will be paid out to the person selling the shares.

Shares in major firms tend to slide when passing the ex-dividend date, as without a dividend the total return on any stock will generally be lower, making it a less attractive investment.

Outside of the FTSE 100, retailer Debenhams — which trades on the FTSE 250 — has lost more than 3% despite the announcement of a new digital-focused turnaround strategy from its Amazon alumni CEO.

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