(Corrects day in first paragraph to Wednesday from Tuesday)
* FTSE 100 down 0.2 pct
* Index steadies after Ukraine-fuelled swings
* Melrose, L&G among top fallers after updates
* Standard Chartered, Admiral support index
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, March 5 Disappointing updates from
companies including engineering buyout firm Melrose Industries
and life and pensions group Legal & General
dragged Britain's top shares down on Wednesday.
A sense of guarded calm returned to the market ahead of
talks between the United States and Russia on easing tensions
over Ukraine, allowing investors to focus on fundamentals, such
as company earnings, valuations and the economic outlook.
Shares in Melrose fell 4.9 percent as the company, which
follows a private equity type model in the engineering sector of
buy, improve and sell, cautioned on challenging market
conditions this year and said sales growth in 2014 would not be
easy to achieve.
The comments, which included a cautious note on currency
effects, triggered some profit taking on the stock, which had
risen nearly 20 percent since early December.
"We cut our profit forecasts and ... valuation by 3-4
percent, for the impact of Sterling's recent strength on the
translated results," analysts at Investec write in a note.
"After robust share price performance, we move from buy to add."
Legal & General, a provider of life insurance and pensions,
was also a major faller, down 2.1 percent, with analysts
flagging a small miss in operational profit.
The two stocks were among top fallers on the FTSE 100, which
was down 12.2 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,811.57 points at 0902
The FTSE was also weighed down by five stocks, including
miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, going
ex-dividend. They took between 7.71 points and 8.46 points off
the index, according to Reuters calculations.
Supporting the FTSE were Asia-focused bank Standard
Chartered and insurer Admiral Group after
The UK blue-chip index had risen 1.7 percent on Tuesday,
more than recouping its losses in the previous session, after
Russia said the use of force in neighbouring Ukraine was not
needed for now.
"We're taking a bit of profit but I think we're going to get
some steady action during the course of the day (on) dissipating
worries of imminent military action in Ukraine," Manoj Ladwa,
head of trading at TJM Partners, said.
Yet still-mixed corporate earnings and the prospect of
tighter monetary policy from the Bank of England meant many
traders expected the FTSE to make little headway in the coming
FTSE 100 is seeing technical resistance at 6,835, a level
that has capped the index over the past week, and above that at
6,860, a level tested several times over the past year and last
seen in 1999.
"I don't think it's going to be able to break that
resistance until we see some incremental positivity coming out
from the Bank of England," TJM's Ladwa said.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)