* FTSE 100 index down 0.3 percent
* Defensive stocks lose ground
* Sainsbury slips after opening higher
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Jan 8 Investors took profits from
two-month highs and trimmed exposure to defensive stocks on
Britain top share index on Wednesday against a background of a
gradually improving global economics.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index fell 0.3 percent to
6,737.72 points after climbing to its highest since early
November in the previous session.
Defensive stocks fell. British American Tobacco and
Imperial Tobacco dropped 1.2 percent and 1.6 percent
respectively, targeted after Hong Kong's South China Morning
Post newspaper reported that health authorities in China aim to
roll out a nationwide smoking ban in public places by the end of
this year, traders said.
Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and
Shire dropped 0.3 to 0.6 percent.
"The market is facing pressure from big defensive names. We
are seeing some rotation from safe stocks to riskier names
because of global growth optimism," Mike van Dulken, head of
research at Accendo Markets, said.
Data showed German exports rose for a fourth consecutive
month in November as trade picked up especially to European
Union countries outside the euro, in a fresh sign that Europe's
largest economy is benefiting from the strat of a global upturn.
Some individual share moves were choppy. Grocer J Sainsbury
opened higher after reporting that sales at its stores
open over a year rose 0.2 percent in the 14 weeks to Jan. 4,
beating forecasts which ranged from flat to down 1 percent.
But shares later fell 2.3 percent after its chief financial
officer lowered the company's growth forecast.
"We expect this to be the best performance amongst the big
four supermarkets. On the other hand, the comments for the rest
of the year are cautious and the economic backdrop remains
uncertain. Hence, Sainsbury's fourth quarter sales are likely to
remain muted, although positive," Guy Foster, head of portfolio
strategy at Brewin Dolphin, said.