* FTSE 100 down 0.4 pct
* Miners, energy stocks fall as investors shun risk
* StanChart firms as profits meet expectations
By Simon Falush
LONDON, March 2 British shares fell on
Wednesday, led by commodity stocks, as oil prices soared on
continuing turmoil in the Arab world, raising fears for the
However, strength from banks on well-received results from
Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and some short-term technical
support helped limit losses.
By 1213 GMT, the FTSE 100 .FTSE was down 23.71 points, or
0.4 percent, at 5,912.05, extending Tuesday's 1 percent decline.
It has only risen on one day in the last eight trading sessions.
The index is down over 3 percent since Feb. 21, when it
touched its highest since May 2008.
Brent LCOc1 rose towards $116 a barrel on Wednesday on
reports of Libyan government counter-attacks on rebel-held towns
in the east of the country, heightening fears of a civil war in
the world's 12th-largest oil exporter.
Standard Chartered, up 3.7 percent, led banks higher after
it posted a 19 percent rise in profits and said it was off to a
record start this year as China, India and other Asian markets
"There are some brighter spots like Standard Chartered, and
corporate earnings have generally been strong, but attention is
being drawn away from that to the oil price strength, which is
adding to uncertainty," said Richard Hunter, head of equities at
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday
that the recent surge in oil was unlikely to derail the economy,
but his comments did little to reassure investors worried that
unrest in the Middle East could hit Saudi Arabia, the world's
largest oil exporter. [ID:nLDE720006]
Energy stocks were the biggest fallers as the benefits for
them of a rise in crude prices were outweighed by fears that
this would choke off demand.
Mining stocks .FTNMX1770 were also weaker, with Xstrata
XTA.L and BHP Billiton (BLT.L) down 0.7 and 0.5 percent,
The FTSE 100 volatility index .VFTSE, a barometer of
investor anxiety, is up 8.3 percent for the week so far, after
rising more than 18 percent last week. The higher the index, the
lower investors' appetite for risky assets such as stocks.
Whitbread was the sharpest faller, on high volume, down 3.9
percent after it reported a slowing rate of sales growth at its
Premier Inn budget hotel chain.
Serco (SRP.L) by contrast advanced 1.8 percent after the
outsourcing firm posted what Shore Capital called "solid"
full-year results. Shore Capital repeated its "buy" rating on
the stock. [ID:nLDE7210HR]
Rio Tinto (RIO.L), RSA Insurance (RSA.L), and Diageo (DGE.L)
all fell after going ex-dividend.
Technical factors have prevented sharper falls in the short
term, but point to weakness further ahead, Nicole Elliott,
technical analyst at Mizuho Corporate Bank said.
"There is decent support between 5,800 and 5,850," she said,
adding that it had limited the downside since early December.
"Trouble is I think that since then we have also formed a
'rounded top', so pressure for a break below here is
increasing," she said.
(Editing by Will Waterman)