* FTSE 100 falls 0.1 percent
* Recovers from heavier losses, buyers seen on dip
* FTSE seen consolidating strong end of year
* Banks ride higher on U.S. results
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, Jan 17 Britain's blue-chip shares edged
lower on Thursday, dragged down by miners after heavyweight Rio
Tinto said its chief executive is to quit and its 2012
results will be hit by a $14 billion charge.
Miners and commodities companies provided three of the FTSE
100's four biggest fallers and took 7.7 points off the index,
pulling it into negative territory after Rio Tinto announced the
non-cash impairment charge and CEO Tom Albanese's resignation.
The charge related to problems in Mozambique and its aluminium
"The biggest news of the day is Rio's impairment charges and
the top man stepping down, that's why Rio's down ... and the
miners are all following each other lower," Northland Capital
Partners broker Ian Jones said.
The FTSE 100 was down 2.95 points, or 0.1 percent,
at 6,101.03 by 1147 GMT, having fallen as much as 0.3 percent in
Rio Tinto was down by 1.4 percent, paring earlier falls of
up to 5 percent after several banks issued notes saying that the
miner's dip provided a buying opportunity.
"We believe the market will perceive today's write-downs and
management changes negatively in the short term, but that these
will be positive for the stock and the sector longer term,"
analysts at Citi write in a note, upgrading the stock to "Buy"
"We believe today's announcement could significantly realign
Rio Tinto with shareholder interests through reduced M&A and
reduced capex spend."
The mining companies index was down 1.1
percent, with miners the biggest fallers on the blue-chip index.
They had risen 20 percent between the middle of November and the
beginning of January, but have shed 6 percent as the initial
euphoria over a deal to avert fiscal crisis in the U.S. has
Miners had been a key driver of gains of 9 percent for the
broader index since mid-November, but the FTSE has also eased,
losing 0.6 percent in the past three days.
"I'm very positive on equities, but in the near term there's
genuine cause for a little concern and consolidation, just
because we had such a strong end to the year," said Robert
Quinn, the chief European equity strategist at Standard & Poor's
"But I think that if the market comes off a little, it's a
nice buying opportunity."
One example of a recent buying opportunity was banks
, which gained 0.5 percent after recent declines,
with investors awaiting more Q4 earnings from the United States.
They are up more than 1.6 percent since the previous
session's lows, boosted by forecast-beating earnings from both
JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs on Wednesday.
Citigroup and Bank of America Corp post numbers on
(Editing by David Goodman)