* FTSE 100 down 0.3 pct
* ECB expected to cut rates later on Thursday
* Mining stocks fall after weak Chinese data
* Smith & Nephew up on report of Medtronic bid interest
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, June 5 Britain's top equity index fell
on Thursday, weighed down by a drop in mining stocks after data
showed that services sector growth in major metals consumer
China had slowed down.
Traders were also waiting to see if the European Central
Bank (ECB) meeting later in the day would yield fresh economic
stimulus measures, as expected by many investors, before making
their next move.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down by 0.3
percent, or 17.97 points, at 6,800.66 points by the middle of
the trading day.
The FTSE 350 Mining Index fell 0.5 percent
after data showed that growth in China's services sector had
retreated to a 4-month low in May.
"We're not a huge fan of the mining sector right now, and we
also believe that gold and silver prices will come down," JNF
Capital trader Rick Jones said.
Medical technology company Smith & Nephew bucked the
weaker market to rise 5.1 percent after a media report that U.S.
rival Medtronic was looking at bidding for it. Smith &
Nephew declined to comment on the report.
The ECB is poised to impose negative interest rates on its
overnight depositors, seeking to cajole banks into lending and
to prevent the euro zone from falling into Japan-like deflation.
But since many investors view these steps as having already
priced into stock markets, any disappointment could result in a
Mike Mason, senior trader at Sucden Financial Private
Clients, said that if the FTSE failed to hold above the 6,800
point level, it could then fall further down to the 6,720-6,760
(Additional reporting by Tricia Wright)