FTSE closes down as investors eye US vote

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The UK stock market closed down on Friday as investors remained cautious ahead of a key vote in the US Senate.

The vote on Donald Trump's healthcare bill is being seen as a key test of how well the new president will be able to push through his reforms.

At the close the FTSE 100 index was at 7,336.82, down by 3.9 points or 0.05%.

Shares in Next were among the biggest fallers, down 1.64%, as the retailer shed some of the gains it made on Thursday after it released its results.

BT Group shares dropped 1.74% as the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, proposed automatic refunds for landline and broadband customers who suffer poor service.

British engineering company Smiths Group was the biggest winner on the FTSE 100, rising 2.9%, after it reported a rise in half-year profits.

The wide-ranging firm, which supplies hospital equipment as well as sensors that detect explosives, said pre-tax profit increased 31% to £248m in the six months to 31 January.

On the currency markets, the pound was 0.19% lower against the dollar at $1.2495, and fell 0.46% against the euro to 1.1557 euros.