* FTSE 100 index steadies by midday
* Barclays leads banks higher
* Antofagasta drags down miners
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, July 30 Britain's top equity index
steadied by midday trading on Wednesday, as a rally in banking
stocks spurred by Barclays' earnings report was offset by weaker
Barclays rose 4.2 percent after saying it had made
good progress in cutting costs and hiving off assets. However,
its underlying profits fell 8 percent in the second quarter as
its attempts to crack down on high-risk trading and subdued
market activity hit its investment banking.
The bank added the most points to the blue-chip FTSE 100
index after some analysts said the drop in investment
banking revenue was less severe than they predicted. The UK
banking index rose 1.3 percent.
"There was a lot of caution ahead of Barclays' results, but
it was no worse than many analysts were expecting. Lower
operating costs are generally positive for banks in the current
environment," Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Keith Bowman said.
Earnings news also helped Travis Perkins, up 3.5
percent, after Britain's No. 1 supplier of building materials
posted a 19.4 percent rise in first-half profit, helped by
improving market conditions and increased customer
However, the broader FTSE 100 index hovered around the
previous session's closing level despite strong gains recorded
by some individual companies. The index was down 0.04 percent at
6,805.07 points by 1059 GMT, with a drop in mining shares
weighing on sentiment.
The UK mining index fell 0.8 percent, led lower
by Antofagasta after the Chilean miner announced its
results. Shares in Antofagasta were down 2.3 percent, the top
faller on the FTSE 100 index.
Antofagasta, which like others in the copper sector is
battling declining ore grades, rising costs and weak metal
prices, posted a 5 percent quarter-on-quarter increase in its
second-quarter copper output, slightly ahead of forecast.
However, the miner's production dropped 4.4 percent in the
first half of 2014 from a year earlier, mainly due to falling
Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG, said that investors
fretted about the rationale for increasing the miner's copper
output at a time when the broader market was expected to record
"Couple that with rising labour costs and it looks like a
grim future for Antofagasta shares."
Among other movers, British American Tobacco fell
0.8 percent, with the strong British pound and a slight decline
in volume hitting its revenue and profit.
The broader market has come under pressure in recent months
as the crisis in eastern Ukraine has threatened to boil over,
most recently after Russian-backed rebels were blamed for the
downing on July 18 of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Susan