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UPDATE 2-FTSE 100 ends flat as banks, consumer discretionary stocks weigh

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

* Banks biggest drag on FTSE 100

* Stay-at-home order ends, outdoor sports restart

* FTSE 100 down 0.08%, FTSE 250 off 0.2% (Updates to close)

March 29 (Reuters) - London’s FTSE 100 ended flat on Monday, as weakness in banks and consumer discretionary stocks outweighed gains in defensive sectors, although further easing of lockdown measures in England paved the way for a pickup in economic activity.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended down 0.08%, with bank stocks including HSBC Holdings, Barclays and Prudential Financial Inc falling between 1% and 1.8%.

Consumer discretionary stocks, including Flutter Entertainment, Compass Group, Entain PLC and Persimmon plc were among the top decliners.

Meanwhile, defensive plays including consumer staples, healthcare and utilities were among the top advancers.

“An easing of restrictions in England failed to act as a catalyst for the FTSE 100,” said Russ Mould, director at AJ Bell investment.

“With both Credit Suisse and Nomura warning of a hit in the fallout from the saga, investors have been reminded of the interconnectedness of the global financial system and how this creates a risk of contagion when something goes wrong.”

Nomura and Credit Suisse both flagged significant losses following transactions with an unnamed U.S. client, although both announcements came after Archegos Capital Management roiled financial markets on Friday with a number of significant block trades.

A raft of global stimulus has helped the FTSE 100 recover more than 37% from a coronavirus-driven crash last year, but a recent rise in COVID-19 cases across Europe has dampened investor sentiment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to be cautious as a stay-at-home order and some other lockdown measures ended, citing rising cases in other parts of Europe and the threat posed by new variants of the virus.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index slipped 0.2%, dragged down by industrials stocks.

Online car seller Cazoo Holdings Ltd said it had agreed to go public in New York through a merger with AJAX I Acquisition Corp, a blank-check acquisition company led by billionaire U.S. investor Dan Och. (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Bernadette Baum)

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