* FTSE 100 index down 0.4 percent
* Commodity issues weak as metal, crude prices reverse
* Banks under pressure on European debt concerns
* Kingfisher knocked by two broker downgrades
By Jon Hopkins
LONDON, Nov 26 Britain's top shares weakened in
early trade on Friday, with mining stocks hit by falling metals
prices and banks dogged by concerns about Europe's debt crisis.
By 0844 GMT, the FTSE 100 index was down 20.64 points, or
0.4 percent, at 5,678.29, having ended 41.83 points, or 0.7
percent, higher on Thursday.
With Wall Street having closed for the Thanksgiving Day
holiday on Thursday and set for a half day on Friday, volumes in
London were light once again.
"There's little for traders to get their teeth into today,
so the blue chips are just drifting back with the same old
stories providing a negative picture," said Mic Mills, head of
electronic trading at ETX Capital.
Miners were the worst blue-chip performers, led by BHP
Billiton (BLT.L) and Rio Tinto (RIO.L), down 1.4 percent and 1.2
percent respectively, as metal prices took a tumble, reversing a
recent rally on concerns about tightening trading conditions.
Rio Tinto said on Friday is to nearly triple its capital
spending to $11 billion next year from about $4 billion in 2010
as it seeks to boost iron ore output by more than 50 percent
over five years. [ID:nLDE6AO1KC]
Integrated oils were also a drag on blue-chip sentiment as
the crude price CLc1 slipped, with BP (BP.L) and Royal Dutch
Shell (RDSa.L) both down 0.4 percent.
Banks suffered as well, with Barclays (BARC.L) losing 1.7
percent, as worries about European sovereign dent contagion
continued to weigh.
A majority of euro zone nations and the European Central
Bank are encouraging Portugal to seek aid from a European rescue
fund, the Financial Times Deutschland reported. [ID:nLDE6AO26F]
Geopolitical tensions in Asia also undermined investor
sentiment, with North Korea saying that impending military
exercises by the South and the United States are pushing the
region towards war. [ID:nL3E6MQ058]
Among individual blue-chip fallers, DIY retailer Kingfisher
(KGF.L) shed 1.5 percent. Traders cited the impact of a
downgrade by BofA Merrill Lynch to "underperform" from "neutral"
with an unchanged 230 pence price target.
Investec Securities also cut its stance on Kingfisher to
"sell" from "hold" in a review of British general retailers in
which it downgraded the sector overall to "underweight".
But broker comment provided a lift for a small batch of
blue-chip risers led by Weir Group (WEIR.L), up 2.9 percent, as
Morgan Stanley started coverage of the engineer with an
"overweight" stance and a 2,000 pence price target.
And telecoms giant BT Group (BT.L) took on 2.6 percent as
Exane BNP Paribas hiked its target price for the firm by 20
percent to 265 pence, citing a strong first-half performance.
With no important domestic economic data due for release on
Friday, traders were focused ahead to Wall Street's
post-Thanksgiving restart this afternoon to provide some badly
(Editing by Michael Shields)