* FTSE 100 down 0.06 pct
* RSA rallies ahead of PWC report on Irish issues
* M&S hit by concern over Christmas sales
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, Jan 6 Britain's FTSE 100 edged lower on
Monday, with weakness in miners and retailers at the start of
the first full week of 2014 offsetting a rally in RSA Insurance
on expectations it will avoid further writedowns.
RSA rose 5.5 percent after the Sunday Telegraph reported
that a probe into its Irish business was expected to conclude
that accounting problems there were an isolated incident, and
that no further writedowns will be needed. Results from the
probe by PWC are due on Jan. 9.
"There are people out there that were extrapolating from
Ireland - which is 3 percent of the group's business - to some
of the bigger regions, and if the PWC reviews includes the words
isolated incident .... then for those people it would be a good
respite for them," said Eamonn Flanagan, analyst at Shore
Capital, who rates the stock "hold".
"It's a positive 'hold' rather than a negative 'hold'
because I do think that the options for the group are healthier
than some in the market believe."
Traders said the stock also got a fillip from a UBS note
raising the price target on the stock and adding it to the
bank's most preferred list.
However, after the broader FTSE 100 was down 4.76 points or
0.07 percent at 6,725.91 points by 0848 GMT, with
weakness in retailers and miners getting the upper hand after a
jittery start to the session.
Miners were hit by fresh signs of economic weakness in top
metals consumer China. Surveys showed growth in the Chinese
service sector activity slowing in December, mirroring the trend
seen in manufacturing.
Randgold Resources fell 1.8 percent, while
heavyweight Rio Tinto dropped 1.1 percent.
Retailers also weighed on the FTSE 100, with Marks & Spencer
down 1.8 percent to 435.98 pence on concerns that a
trading update later this week may reveal weak Christmas sales.
"With the technical outlook deteriorating rapidly and with
heavy negative media sentiment, I wouldn't be surprised to see
further moves lower: 416 pence, which is the cycle low from June
last year should act as support," said Jordan Hiscott, sales
trader at Gekko Global Markets.