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London stocks fall on wider lockdowns; Britain exits EU's orbit

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* FTSE 100 down 1.6%, FTSE 250 off 0.6%

Dec 31 (Reuters) - London stocks fell in thin trade on Thursday as the United Kingdom widened restrictions to stem a new variant of the coronavirus that is raging across the country, and as it exits the European Union’s orbit for an uncertain Brexit future.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 lost 1.6%, on course to end the year down more than 14% and underperforming its European peers by a wide margin on concerns about Brexit and a surge in virus cases.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index, considered a barometer of Brexit sentiment, was down 0.6%, falling for a second consecutive session.

The United Kingdom exits the European Union at the stroke of midnight in Brussels, or 2300 London time (GMT), when Britain leaves de-facto membership that continued after it formally left the bloc on Jan. 31.

Real estate agent Countrywide jumped 14% after accepting realty management firm Connells Ltd’s sweetened buyout offer, which gives it an enterprise value of about 223.1 million pounds ($304.06 million). (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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