Britain's FTSE edges lower but holds near 2-year highs

LONDON Tue Jan 8, 2013 3:21am EST

LONDON Jan 8 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 fell slightly in early deals on Tuesday, consolidating around two-year highs ahead of the corporate earnings season in the U.S., with HSBC leading banks lower after a downgrade from Investec.

By 0814 GMT, the index was down 4.16 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,060.42. The index posted its first loss of the year last session having enjoyed a bullish start to the year which saw London's blue chips gain around 3 percent in the first three trading days.

Banks lost 0.6 percent, with HSBC taking the most points off the index after being cut to "Hold" from "Buy" by Investec.

The bank was also hit by fears that Thailand's CP Group's $9.4 billion bid to buy HSBC's stake in Ping An Insurance could be jeopardised by the state-run China Development Bank.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout)

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