* FTSE 100 up 0.1 pct, trims gains after weak U.S. data
* Banks, utilities up as rate hike expectations pushed back
* Strong emerging markets, North America results lift G4S
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, Aug 13 Britain's top share index was
flat on Wednesday, paring earlier gains, as a boost from a
dovish message from the Bank of England was offset by some weak
U.S. retail sales data.
Financial markets pushed back expectations for a UK interest
rate rise until the first quarter of next year at the earliest
after the Bank of England, in its quarterly Inflation Report,
slashed its wage growth forecasts and said this metric would be
key to determining the timing and pace of rate rises. That
pushed sterling to a 10-week low against the
With low bond yields fuelling demand for equities and 75
percent of revenues from UK blue chips coming from overseas, the
BoE's report has a silver lining for London-listed companies,
which benefit from a weaker sterling and low interest rates.
"It's positive for the market, I'm sure, but it could allow
inflation to come in which is harder to control in the medium
term," 4-Shires Asset Management managing director Jeremy Le
"For exporters the pound needs to be a lot lower. Domestic
bond-like plays such as utilities are going to benefit if we are
going to have interest rates lower for longer."
Utilities Severn Trent and United Utilities,
and domestically focused banks Royal Bank of Scotland
and Barclays all rose more than 1 percent.
The FTSE 100 was 6.51 points higher, or 0.1 percent,
at 6,638.93 points by 1402 GMT.
It trimmed earlier gains after data showed U.S. retail sales
unexpectedly stalled in July, pointing to some loss of momentum
in the world's largest economy early in the third quarter.
"The only important data point of the week ... was weaker
than expected," a trader in London said. "Since the second
quarter didn't end all that well, it compounds the weakness of
Shares in G4S, the world's biggest security company,
led advances, up 5.4 percent, after the group posted a
better-than-expected rise in first-half operating profit. It
posted revenue growth in emerging markets and North America,
offsetting a decline in Europe.
Trading volume in the stock was almost 3-1/2 times its
full-day average for the past three months, compared to market
volume of less than half the FTSE 100's own average.
Stocks trading without their dividend entitlements -
including heavyweights such as pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca
, oil major Royal Dutch Shell and miner
Rio Tinto - capped gains on the FTSE, shaving about 21
points off the index.
Motor insurer Admiral Group was the biggest loser,
down 5.7 percent after reporting a 9 percent fall in UK motor
The FTSE has come under pressure in the past month as fears
of economic fallout from conflict in Ukraine and Iraq have added
to worries about a tightening of monetary policy in Britain and
the United States while the economic recovery remains fragile.
In this context, traders were reluctant to buy on dips,
waiting for the FTSE 100 to fall more before making a move.
"We have identified the 6,439 level as a potential buy
zone," said Rob Colville, chief executive officer of technical
trading firm The Lazy Trader, referring to a support level
tested in December and February.
"We are like the huntsman in the bushes waiting for his
prey. We have spotted the level and are stalking price action."
(Additional reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Louise
Ireland and Susan Fenton)