* FTSE 100 index down 0.5 percent
* Melrose, Legal & General down after updates
* FTSE index faces technical resistance at 6,835
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 5 Britain's top share index fell
again on Wednesday after rebounding from two-week lows in the
previous session, as disappointing updates from companies like
Melrose and Legal & General weighed on sentiment.
Engineering turnaround specialist Melrose Industries
fell 7 percent, the top decliner on the FTSE 100 index
, after warning of challenging market conditions and
saying sales growth in 2014 would not be easy to achieve.
Legal & General, a provider of life insurance and
pensions, was also a major faller, down 2 percent, with analysts
flagging a small miss in operational profit.
"Investors are a bit cautious following some poor company
updates and the situation in Ukraine remains a threat for the
broader market. But generally people will continue to look
towards central banks and economic data, which have been quite
supportive," IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said.
"Once you have these temporary weaknesses out of the way, we
could push higher from here."
Markets continue to keep a close eye on the situation in
Ukraine, with a sense of guarded calm returning ahead of talks
between the United States and Russia aimed at easing East-West
tensions and averting the risk of a war.
That allowed investors to focus on fundamentals, such as
company earnings, valuations and the economic outlook.
The FTSE 100 was down 34.80 points, or 0.5 percent, at
6,788.97 points at 1118 GMT after rebounding 1.7 percent in the
previous session following a fall of 1.5 percent on Monday due
to tensions in Ukraine.
"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," said Manoj
Ladwa, head of trading at TJM Partners.
The FTSE was also weighed down by five stocks, including
miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, going
ex-dividend. They took 8.46 points off the index, according to
Charts showed the FTSE 100 was 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," Ladwa said.
However, losses were limited by gains in shares of some
British motor insurer Admiral Group rose 6.6
percent to the top of the FTSE 100 after posting higher than
expected pre-tax earnings growth of 7 percent for 2013, boosted
by new overseas business.
Standard Chartered was up 0.5 percent after it
reassured investors about the strength of its balance sheet and
raised its dividend. The bank reported its first drop in annual
profits for a decade, however, and gave a weak outlook for the