* FTSE 100 down 16.93 points at 6,681.08
* FTSE hits session high on talk of ECB deposit rate cut
* Ex-div stocks including Vodafone weigh on index
* BSkyB lifted by talk of BT deal
By David Brett
LONDON, Nov 20 Britain's FTSE 100 was dragged
down on Wednesday by heavyweight stocks such as Vodafone trading
ex-dividend, but briefly pared its losses after a report that
the European Central Bank was considering negative deposit
Bloomberg reported that the ECB was considering a cut in its
deposit rate to -0.1 percent from the current zero.
"Comments from the ECB about a potential minus 0.1 deposit
rate if more easing is required is market-positive," said Atif
Latif, director at Guardian Stockbrokers.
The FTSE 100 closed 16.93 points or 0.3 percent
lower at 6,681.08, after spiking to a session high of 6,711
shortly after the report that the ECB was considering charging
lenders for parking money at the central bank.
The main weight on the FTSE 100 was Vodafone,
Britain's third-largest listed company by market capitalisation,
which took 9 points off the index.
Carnival, Next, Sainsbury and Tate
& Lyle traded ex-dividend on Wednesday as well.
ITV was among the worst-performing FTSE 100 stocks, falling
1.5 percent. Traders said the decline came after Bank of America
Merrill Lynch downgraded the free-to-air broadcaster to
"neutral" from "buy".
Ratings upgrades also set the course for some of the top
gainers on the FTSE 100.
Fund firm Aberdeen Asset Management added 3.5
percent, topping the list of FTSE 100 risers, after BofA ML
raised its recommendation on the company to "neutral" from
EasyJet extended recent gains, climbing 2.4 percent,
as HSBC upgraded the low-cost airline to "neutral" from
"underweight" following results on Tuesday.
BSkyB rallied 1.2 percent after the pay-TV service
said it wanted to make a deal with BT so each could offer
its customers a full range of live sports. BSkyB
slumped earlier this month after BT outbid it for exclusive
rights to Champions League football.
The FTSE 100 remains up about 13 percent since the start of
2013 but has slipped from late-October highs of around 6,819.
It is now below a technical support line at the 23.6 pct
Fibonacci retracement of the rally that started in October, at
6,701.16 points. The next support lies at the 38.2 pct Fibo at
6,627.73 and the 50-day moving average.
But traders remain bullish on the FTSE 100 for December,
arguing that signs of an economic recovery in the UK would
continue to support the stock market.
"Some portfolio adjustments are expected as the market seems
to consolidate before a the next move. The market remains in an
uptrend and momentum indicators suggest we could go higher,"
Guardian's Latif said.
JNF Capital trader Rick Jones said he thought the FTSE 100
was still on track to end 2013 around 6,900 to 7,000.