November 28, 2013 / 8:41 AM / 4 years ago

Britain's FTSE steadies, companies warn Europe still tough

3 Min Read

* FTSE 100 flat

* Kingfisher, Wolseley, Compass say Europe still tough

* Investors welcome Rio Tinto's cost-cutting plans

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE share index steadied on Thursday, with a rise in heavyweight miner Rio Tinto on cost-cutting plans offset by concerns over weak European demand at Kingfisher, Wolseley and Compass.

Trading was expected to be light, with U.S. investors away for the Thanksgiving holiday. Last Thanksgiving, volumes on the FTSE were 36 percent lower than the 2012 daily average, and activity further slowed on the following day.

"I think the market will be very quiet and volumes weak today as Thanksgiving in the U.S. impacts direction here in Europe - I can't see the FTSE moving much today," said Mark Ward, head of execution trading at Sanlam Securities UK.

"Rio should add some support to the miners but Kingfisher missed expectations so will be called down this morning."

The FTSE 100 was little changed at 6,647.38 points by 0829 GMT. Rio rose 1.3 percent, the biggest boost to the index, after cutting costs by $3 billion by not digging brand new iron ore mines, thus slowing expansion plans.

Kingfisher led the fallers, tumbling 4.1 percent after Europe's biggest home improvements retailer posted third-quarter profit at the lower end of forecasts and cautioned that markets remained tough, particularly in France.

Plumbing supplies group Wolseley and the world's biggest catering company Compass Group also both warned of tough conditions in Europe.

Their shares fell 0.7 and 1.4 percent, respectively.

"If you are anything to do with France, like Kingfisher, then you've got an issue," said Gerard Lane, strategist at Shore Capital.

"I think the aggregate euro area will struggle, there is no evidence of economic recovery. It might have stopped going down at the rate it was going down before, but that doesn't mean it's going to start growing."

Also on the downside, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco fell on media reports that the UK government is set to announce a review of cigarette packaging in an effort to deter youngsters from smoking.

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