Profit taking pushes Britain's FTSE back down

Wed May 29, 2013 4:03am EDT

* FTSE falls 1.1 percent to 6,685.70

* M&S, AMEC fall after going ex-dividend

* Miners, banks biggest sector losers

By David Brett

LONDON, May 29 (Reuters) - British blue chip shares fell on Wednesday as investors took the previous session's sharp rise as a reason to take profits and retailer Mark & Spencer and engineering group AMEC dropped after losing their dividend entitlements.

By 0738 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 76.31 points, or 1.1 percent, at 6,685.70, having gained 1.6 percent on Tuesday to near 13-year highs on pledges of continued monetary stimulus from major central banks.

"Profit takers may move in as the end of the month approaches," Jawaid Afsar, sales trader at SecurEquity said, but noted that trade in the final few days of the month was likely to be volatile.

While officials from the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank have reiterated that they will keep policies designed to foster growth in place, strong U.S. economic data on Tuesday reignited concerns that the Federal Reserve could scale back its accommodative monetary policy earlier than expected.

The UK equity market fell sharply late last week from near all-time highs after Fed Chairmen Ben Bernanke said a decision to scale back its bond buying operations could come at one of the Fed's next few meetings if the U.S. economy looked set to maintain momentum.

"The bullish argument is straightforward and has not changed a great deal after last week's wobble: monetary stimulus is far from finished and will continue to underpin the attractions of equities relative to other asset classes," Ian Williams, equity strategist at Peel Hunt, said.

Early on Wednesday, however, with no major UK company news or economic data for investors to mull over, the FTSE 100 index was a sea of red.

Those sectors most acutely exposed to the state of the broader economy were the biggest fallers with miners and industrial metals falling 1 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, while banks shed 0.9 percent.

Marks and Spencer and AMEC took a combined 0.97 points off the FTSE 100 after trading without the entitlement to their latest dividend payout. (Editing by Susan Fenton)

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