* FTSE 100 down 0.4 pct
* Drop in Lloyds hurts financial stocks
* Shell and ITV rise after posting higher profits
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
July 31 Britain's top equity index fell on
Thursday as UK bank Lloyds pulled down financial
stocks, while concerns about the impact on Europe from tensions
between Russia and Ukraine also made traders wary.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.4 percent,
or 26.96 points, at 6,746.48 points.
Shares in Lloyds, which had risen for the last seven
sessions, fell 3 percent and weighed on other financial stocks,
with the FTSE 350 Banking Index retreating by 1.2
Traders and analysts said that while Lloyds' overall interim
results were good, with the part-nationalised bank reporting a
32 percent jump in first-half profits, some of the gloss had
been taken off by a rise in bad debts.
"The bad debt charges are the only negative I can see," said
Securequity sales trader Jawaid Afsar.
The FTSE 100 hit a 2014 peak of 6,894.88 points in mid-May
which marked its highest level since December 1999. Many traders
had expected expect the FTSE to hit a record high of 7,000
points but its failure to breach the 6,900 mark so far this year
has led some traders to book profits above the 6,800 level.
ActivTrades' senior market analyst Carlo de Casa said the
FTSE could go down to 6,645-6,685 if it fell below the 6,700
Afsar said he would not buy the FTSE at current levels,
adding that concerns about the economic impact of tougher
Western sanctions against Moscow were also pegging back stock
Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers,
was more optimistic that better corporate profits would enable
the FTSE to recover and rise from any pull-backs.
Oil major Royal Dutch Shell reported a
forecast-beating rise in earnings on Thursday, and TV company
ITV also posted higher profits.
"We are pleased that the earnings will allow the market to
push back higher from this level," said Latif.
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Toby