* FTSE 100 down 0.5 percent
* Sports Direct drops after results
* Wood Group falls; engineering profit to drop in 2014
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, Dec 12 Britain's top share index fell
for a third straight day on Thursday as uncertainty over the
outlook for U.S. monetary policy continued to take its toll on
Sports Direct was the sharpest faller on the FTSE
100, off 3.7 percent, with some analysts blaming the sporting
goods retailer's comments on trading after it reported a rise in
"Solid delivery from Sports Direct, but the rhetoric on
current trading is not as bullish as usual and we are shaving
forecasts (admittedly from the top of the range)," Oriel
"The shares' momentum is unlikely to persist given the
in-line nature of the results," said the broker, which has a
"hold" rating on the stock. Sports Direct, up 92 percent in
2013, hit a record high on Wednesday.
Mid-cap energy services company Wood Group also came
under pressure, off 10.7 percent, after warning that profits
from its engineering division would be down by 10 to 15 percent
next year due to continuing weakness in Canada.
Hopes for the traditional festive rally were further eroded
on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 off 31.73 points, or 0.5
percent, at 6,475.99 points by 0855 GMT, taking its loss in
December so far to 2.6 percent. The index has risen in all but
two of the last 20 Decembers, Thomson Reuters Datastream shows.
Equities are suffering on worries over when the U.S. Federal
Reserve will scale back its stimulus, with a provisional budget
deal clinched in Washington on Tuesday fuelling concerns it may
start the process as early as next week.
"(The market) thinks they're going to taper next week; the
mood seems to have changed on that quite dramatically which I
think might knock (a Santa rally) on the head," said Ian
Williams, equity strategist at Peel Hunt.
As long as the FTSE stays above last week's low at 6,480 on
a closing basis, the technical picture for the index remains
intact, according to Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at Gain
Capital. The index is however currently trading around this