* FTSE 100 down 0.3 pct
* Old Mutual, RSA weak after results
* Volatility ticks up, investors digest Russian sanctions
* Rio Tinto provides miners with a boost
By Alistair Smout
EDINBURGH, Aug 7 Britain's top share index
slipped on Thursday after insurers reported weaker than expected
results, but the market was supported by strong earnings from
Financial stocks were the main drag on the index, trimming
7.7 points off the FTSE 100.
The heaviest faller in early deals was Old Mutual,
down 2.7 percent after foreign exchange headwinds dampened a
headline jump in profit, traders said.
Fellow insurer RSA was also down, falling 2 percent
after it outlined the details of its turnaround plan.
Sami Taipalus, analyst at Berenberg, said that while RSA's
balance sheet position has been strengthened considerably, its
economic capital ratio and targeted cost savings were both lower
"Overall, we struggle to get overly positive about the
contents of the release at this stage," Taipalus said in a note.
Outside of the insurers, investors remained on edge over the
possible impact of tit-for-tat sanctions announced by Russia,
introduced after the West penalised Russia for its role in
supporting pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine.
The majority of sectors were in negative territory, and
although the market had opened steady, volatility, a
crude measure of investor fear, ticked up by 4 percent.
The FTSE 100 was down 22.13 points, or 0.3 percent, at
6,613.61 by 0749 GMT, meaning the index has fallen 3 percent
over the last six sessions.
The index did receive substantial support from the mining
Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto rose 2.4 percent
after reporting a 21 percent rise in first-half profit on
Thursday, beating market forecasts.
The miner slashed capital spending and cut costs faster than
expected while ramping up iron ore output, prompting a rise
which contributed 4 points to the FTSE 100.
"'World Class' is the line CEO Sam Walsh is using to
describe the results and the proof is plain to see," Evan Lucas,
analyst at IG said, adding that "the results beat on all major
Three quarters of analysts with ratings on the stock believe
Rio Tinto is either a "bus" or "strong buy", Thomson Reuters
Starmine data showed.
In all, basic materials stocks, including miners,
contributed 8 points to the index, with the FTSE 350 mining
index up 1.3 percent, the top sectoral gainer.
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)