RPT-FTSE edges lower on Greece concerns, cyclicals up

Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:41am EST

(Repeats to additional subscribers)

* FTSE 100 index falls 0.1 percent

* Johnson Matthey slips after earnings

* Cyclical shares up; banks, insurers advance

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index edged lower on Wednesday after gains in the previous two sessions, with sentiment hurt by a lack of agreement among Greece's international lenders on emergency aid.

Overnight, euro zone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank failed to reach a consensus, without which the aid cannot be disbursed to Athens. They will meet again next week.

However, losses were capped by a rise in cyclical sectors such as banks and insurers on expectations that U.S. lawmakers would ultimately reach to an agreement to avoid a fiscal crisis.

By 0956 GMT, the FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent at 5,740.71 points, after rising 0.2 percent in the previous session and surging 2.4 percent on Monday on expectations that the U.S. "fiscal cliff" - a combination of spending cuts and tax rises set to take effect next year - could be avoided.

"Certainly the broader concerns for Greece do look to be overshadowing the market. On a corporate results basis also, we haven't seen anything that has provided a great deal of inspiration," Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

"But there is optimism that the 'fiscal cliff' issue will be resolved. People are balancing their portfolios between broadly defensive areas and some cyclical exposure to hedge their bets. They have been dipping their toes back into the likes of banks on a selective basis."

Sectors that generally perform better than others during a recovery in economic activity were in demand. UK banks were up 0.4 percent, Lloyds Banking Group rose 0.8 percent, while Barclays was up 0.6 percent. Insurer Aviva gained 1.1 percent.

But poor corporate news hurt shares of some companies. Johnson Matthey, the world's largest supplier of catalytic converters, fell 6.4 percent to top the losers' list after posting a 6 percent dip in first-half profit and warning of a tougher second half for its truck segment.

UK miners fell 0.9 percent, tracking weaker metals.

Charts showed the FTSE 100 index was getting some support at its 200-day moving average of 5,726 points, but would face stiff resistance at 5,770, its 100-day moving average.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said the FTSE index had potential to rise up to 5,900 points by the end of the year.

"The main near-term driver could be a solution for Greece and some more positive macroeconomic data from China," he said.

On the positive side, British Land rose 2.3 percent, with traders citing an upgrade to "overweight" from "equal weight" by Morgan Stanley. (Editing by Stephen Nisbet)