Britain's FTSE touches six-week low, ex-dividend stocks weigh
* FTSE 100 falls 0.7 percent
* Focus on Fed minutes as prospect of stimulus slowdown builds
* HSBC weighed by ex-dividend, emerging market exposure
* Gold and copper miners both hit as commodity prices weaken
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Britain's benchmark equity index fell for the third straight day on Wednesday to touch six-week lows, with investors anxious over the prospect of a forthcoming scaling back of U.S. monetary stimulus.
The market also took a technical hit as a clutch of companies including bank HSBC and Intercontinental Hotels began trading without entitlement to their latest dividend payout, automatically shaving more than 10 points off the index.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down by 0.7 percent, or 47.74 points lower, at 6,405.72 points at 1031 GMT.
HSBC was hit additionally by its international exposure, with the rupee hitting an all-time low against the dollar as emerging markets bore the brunt of concerns over the stimulus programme, which has pushed down bond yields and helped to drive a global equity rally so far this year.
The minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's July meeting, out later on Wednesday, may give more clues on its future policy, and bond yields have already risen over the last month on expectations that the Fed may start to slow the pace of those purchases next month.
"The downtrend from the beginning of August is just accelerating, but as everyone is factoring in tapering (of stimulus), then it's hard to see how the market can go much lower," Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said, adding that he was monitoring support around 6,400.
Miners were the biggest sectoral fallers after ex-dividends were accounted for, dropping 1.5 percent on caution in demand for stimulus-sensitive copper and for safe-haven gold, which could lose its appeal if the dollar strengthens.
Precious metal miners Fresnillo and Randgold fell 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent respectively, while copper-focused Rio Tinto fell 2.3 percent.
Despite the retreat from a 13-year high hit in May, the FTSE is still up 9 percent since the start of 2013. Citi strategists said they preferred the UK market to continental European ones, with investors encouraged by signs of an economic recovery in Britain.
"As our European equity strategists have pointed out, UK equity returns are now ahead of bond returns over 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20 and 25 years," the Citi strategists wrote in a note. (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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