* FTSE 100 up 0.1 pct, to snap 5-day losing streak
* Glaxo boosts index after results
* RSA bounces after CEO appointment
* Financials mixed with Hargreaves Lansdown down 9.8 pct
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, Feb 5 Britain's top equity index
steadied on Wednesday, breaking a five-day losing streak on the
back of rallies in insurer RSA and pharma group
Shares in RSA rose 3.9 percent on expectations its new chief
executive Stephen Hester, credited with salvaging RBS,
"would help turn around the insurer, which is struggling with a
200 million pound ($330 million) hole in its finances following
an accounting scandal.
The stock had fallen 25 percent in the previous 12 months,
lagging a 20 percent rally for the British insurance sector and
leaving RSA trading at a discount to all its peers based on
expected earnings and book value, Thomson Reuters data showed.
"Having someone on board of Stephen's calibre and track
record is certainly supportive," said Marcus P Rivaldi, an
analyst at Morgan Stanley, who expected the stock to start
outperforming its peers.
"The key thing is having the balance sheet issue put to bed
fairly rapidly ... and then you have a capacity to see the stock
normalising in terms of assumptions on multiples."
Analysts Barclays also welcomed the appointment, upgrading
the stock to "equal weight" from "underweight".
Volume on RSA's shares was over four times its full-day
average for the past three months, compared to FTSE 100 volume
10 percent below the index's own average.
The FTSE was up 5.20 points, or 0.1 percent, at
6,454.47 points, steadying after it shed nearly 2 percent in the
previous five days.
Shares in GlaxoSmithKline, up 4.1 percent, added most points
to the index after saying it predicts a pick-up in sales growth
this year as productivity in its drug research labs improves and
pressure on sales in China moderates following a damaging
The FTSE repeatedly bounced back up after testing support at
6,422, showing buyers were starting to come back into the market
as it approached four-month lows.
The recent falls in the FTSE have come as concerns over U.S.
growth and monetary stimulus compound fears over the resilience
of emerging market economies.
"Any move towards 6,400 is attracting some buying, (but) I'd
want that area to hold for the week before I'd be sitting a
little more comfortable on the long side," said Will Hedden,
sales trader at IG.
"If you did well last year - which most equity investors did
- then I don't see why you need to rush things at the moment."
The FTSE 100 gained 14.4 percent last year, although
emerging market turmoil has seen it lose around 4 percent so far
Traders said investors were unlikely to make large
directional bets before Thursday's European Central Bank policy
review, where the ECB will be under pressure to loosen policy,
and U.S. jobs numbers on Friday, which will provide a clearer
picture of the strength of the country's recovery.
A weaker-than-expected report on the U.S. private labour
market cast a shadow ahead of Friday's release, causing the FTSE
to trim gains in late trade.
Investment manager Hargreaves Lansdown, which
dropped 9.8 percent, was the top FTSE faller as its quarterly
update showed a fall in the company's interest margin. The stock
is up over 110 percent since the beginning of