London Markets: British stocks slump on Middle East worries, though oil majors and defense giant limit the fall

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British stocks slumped on Monday in a broad-based retreat on worries over Middle East tensions.

The U.K. FTSE 100 UKX, -0.53%  weakened 0.78% to 7562.72, with decliners outnumbering advancers by a 1589-to-590 margin.

On a percentage basis, Hikma Pharmaceuticals HIK, -3.55%   and Evraz EVR, -3.82%  saw the biggest declines, but an overwhelming percentage of the FTSE 100 stocks were lower.

Over the weekend, Iran and the U.S. exchanged threats, following the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Iran has vowed retaliation, while U.S. President Donald Trump said that Iranian cultural sites are fair game for the U.S. military and threatened sanctions against Iraq if it expelled American troops.

Brent crude futures rose as high as .$70.74 a barrel, providing support for oil producers including BP, +2.66%  , which rose 1.9%.

Defense contractor BAE Systems BA, +1.65%  rose 2.1%. Its top two clients, the U.S. and the U.K., are in Iraq, and its number-three client Saudi Arabia is a rival to Iran in the region.

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