Banks, energy pull FTSE 0.4 pct lower by close
* Banks reverse Thursday's rally
* Retailers, property firms gain
* Defensive stocks retreat
By Simon Falush
LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index was down 0.4 percent by the close on Friday, with energy stocks dented by lower crude prices and banks retreating after recent gains while defensive stocks also took a beating.
The FTSE 100 .FTSE ended down 24.63 points at 5,703.02, having finished above 5,700 for the first time since June 2008 on Thursday. The index is up 6.5 percent this month and has risen for each of the last four weeks.
"There's a degree of exhaustion after the gains, there's no reason to be outright short on the market but it may be a good idea to book profits after recent strength, that's what I'd advise clients to do," said Geoff Wilkinson, head of investment research at Mint.
Banks were the biggest drag on the index. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), HSBC (HSBA.L) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) fell 1 to 1.7 percent.
Elsewhere, hedge fund Man Group (EMG.L) fell 3.6 percent. The Financial Times reported that it is seeking to expand its operations in the United States.
Energy stocks extended their recent weak run, with BG Group (BG.L), BP (BP.L) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) down 0.1-1.7 percent, weighed as crude fell below $80 per barrel CLc1.
UTILITIES, PHARMACEUTICALS FALL
Defensively-perceived stocks, including utilities, consumer staples producers, pharmaceutical firms and tobaccos, all fell.
Power suppliers International Power IPR.L, and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE.L) shed 3.9 and 2.1 percent, respectively, after JPMorgan downgraded its ratings for both stocks.
Other utilities National Grid (NG.L), Severn Trent (SVT.L) and United Utilities (UU.L) lost 0.7 to 1.1 percent.
Consumer goods producer Unilever (ULVR.L) dropped 1.6 percent as HSBC cut its rating to "neutral" from "overweight".
Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L), and Imperial Tobacco (IMT.L) fell 0.5 to 1.5 percent after rising on Thursday.
Highlighting the tough economic climate, business investment in Britain fell 4.3 percent between October and December 2009 compared with the previous three months, giving a record 23.5 percent annual drop, official data showed. [ID:nLAJ002323]
The top performing sector was real estate investment, which enjoyed a post-budget rally, with British Land (BLND.L), Land Securities (LAND.L) and Liberty International LII.L among the gainers, up 0.7 to 1.7 percent.
Retailers Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) and Next (NXT.L) gained 2.2 and 1.1 percent respectively as sentiment on the sector was buoyed earlier in the week after strong results from Next.
Advertising company WPP (WPP.L) was boosted as ING started coverage of the stock with a "buy" rating, up 2.9 percent.
Cable & Wireless Worldwide CWP.L was traded at 92.25 pence by close on its stock market debut following the demerger by the re-named Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC.L) of its global telecoms business. CWC ended at 56.75 pence.
Barclays Capital in a note this week estimated on the basis of discounted cashflow-based computations a fair value of 90-120 pence for C&W Worldwide shares and of 60-80 pence for CWC. (Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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