* FTSE 100 index closes 0.5 pct lower
* Antofagasta drags down miners
* Barclays leads banks higher
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, July 30 Britain's top equity index
finished lower on Wednesday as weaker mining stocks, dragged
down by Chilean miner Antofagasta, outweighed a rally
in banking stocks spurred by Barclays.
The UK mining index fell 1.6 percent, making it
the worst performing sector. Antofagasta was down 4.6 percent,
the biggest decline on the blue-chip FTSE 100 index.
The mining company, like others in copper, is battling
declining ore grades, rising costs and weak metal prices. Its
output dropped 4.4 percent in the first half of 2014 from a year
Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG, said that investors
questioned the rationale for increasing copper output when the
broader market was expected to record surpluses.
"Couple that with rising labour costs and it looks like a
grim future for Antofagasta shares," he said.
The FTSE 100 index ended 0.5 percent weaker at 6,773.44
points. Losses were limited by a 1.3 percent gain on the UK
Banks were led higher by Barclays, up 4.2 percent
after it reported progress in cutting costs and hiving off
assets. However, its underlying profits fell 8 percent in the
second quarter as subdued market activity and its attempts to
crack down on high-risk trading hit investment banking.
The bank added the most points to the FTSE 100 after some
analysts said the drop in investment banking revenue was less
severe than they predicted.
"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 2.7
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
Among other movers, British American Tobacco fell
1.2 percent, with the strong British pound and a
slight decline in volume hitting its revenue and
The broader market has come under pressure as the crisis in
eastern Ukraine has threatened to boil over, most recently after
Russian-backed rebels were blamed for the downing of a Malaysian
passenger jet over Ukraine two weeks ago.
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Susan
Fenton/Ruth Pitchford/Larry King)