* FTSE 100 down 0.4 pct
* Energy sector under pressure on OPEC meeting doubts
* Housebuilders rally on strong mortgage data
* TalkTalk recovers from recent weakness
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By Peter Hobson and Alistair Smout
LONDON, Nov 29 Britain's top share index fell on
Tuesday, underperforming other European markets as energy and
mining stocks were hit by weaker oil and metals prices.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which is more heavily
weighted towards commodity-related stocks than continental
European indexes, fell 0.4 percent.
Signs that leading oil exporters were struggling to agree a
deal to cut production to reduce global oversupply ahead of a
meeting on Wednesday pushed Brent crude down more than 3
Gold fell and metals including copper, lead and steel
slipped on perceptions that a post-U.S. election rally in
industrial metals prices had overreached.
That pushed the FTSE mining stocks index and
the oil and gas index down 2.2 percent and 2.1
"(With) continued production cut brinkmanship from both OPEC
and Russia, scepticism is still rife about whether tomorrow's
official OPEC meeting in Vienna will be a success," said Mike
van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
Mining companies Antofagasta, BHP Billiton,
and Fresnillo were the biggest fallers, down by between
3 and 3.9 percent. Shares in BP dropped 2.1 percent while
Royal Dutch Shell slipped 2 percent.
But banks stabilised after Monday's fall, with Barclays
rising 1.1 percent, even though Asia-exposed HSBC
and Standard Chartered were little changed.
Homebuilders Barratt Development, Persimmon
and Taylor Wimpey gained between 1.9 percent and 2.3
percent after Bank of England data showed mortgage approvals
were stronger than expected in October.
The data also showed lending to Britons expanded last month
at the fastest annual pace in 11 years, helping boost
consumer-facing stocks such as retailers Next and Dixons
Carphone and broadcaster ITV by between 1.8 and
Mid-cap stocks on the FTSE 250, which are less
exposed to swings in commodity prices, edged up 0.1 percent.
Shares in broadband company TalkTalk rebounded 3.1
percent after touching a four-year low on Monday, as Britain's
telecoms regulator said it would try to force BT to
legally separate its Openreach network infrastructure division
into a legally separate entity.
This move would benefit smaller broadband firms such as
TalkTalk as it would "allow them to see whether they have been
paying over the odds for access to the UK's copper and fibre
optic network," Accendo Markets' van Dulken said.
TalkTalk shares had fallen by a quarter over eight sessions
after results earlier in the month, but have been up for the
last three days. BT fell in early deals, but ended up 1.2
Mid-cap food service company SSP Group jumped 8.5
percent after reporting stronger revenues and profits.
But in the longer term, British mid-caps are in for a tough
time as the index has yet to price in the effect of Britain's
vote to leave the European Union, French investment bank Societe
"We are cautious on the FTSE 250, more domestic than the
FTSE 100, as it is trading above its pre-referendum level
despite the outlook for much lower GDP growth and much higher
inflation," the bank's strategists said in a note.
By contrast, higher commodity prices and weaker sterling
will help the FTSE 100 gain more than 10 percent by the end of
2017, they said.
(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)