* FTSE 100 falls 0.3 percent
* Financials led lower by Aberdeen after downgrade
* Strong jobs number could see equity sell-off - traders
* Glencore Xstrata, BT lead risers after target price hikes
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - Britain’s top shares slid on Friday, led down by financials and extending the sharp falls of the two previous sessions, in cautious trading pending the month’s main U.S. jobs data.
The FTSE 100 was down 16.02 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,320.09, by 1045 GMT, having dropped 3.4 percent since Wednesday to close at a month-and-a-half low on Thursday.
Financials were led lower by Aberdeen Asset Management , which dropped 4.2 percent following a downgrade by BofA Merrill Lynch to “underperform” from “neutral”.
“People are just taking some risk off ahead of the U.S. non-farm payrolls number. Volumes are very light at the moment, which is exacerbating the moves, but we should see those volumes pick up in the afternoon,” Matt Basi, head of UK sales trading at CMC Markets, said.
The FTSE 100 has dropped around 8 percent over the past two weeks after U.S. Federal Reserve officials, including Chairman Ben Bernanke, began discussing exit strategies to their unprecedented open-ended quantitative easing programme.
British blue chips derive around a quarter of revenues from the United States, and traders said Friday’s jobs report would help ascertain when the U.S. Federal Reserve might begin to unwind its monetary stimulus.
The index traded in a 30-point range ahead of the report. A strong employment number could prove detrimental to equity markets by reducing the likelihood the Fed will keep the stimulus taps on for a longer period of time.
“If the number were to come up lower, then they would have to leave the quantitative easing as the economy isn’t doing very well, and the fear is that a very good number would mean they have to stop the QE,” said Lucas Roux de Luze, trader at TJM Partners.
“My feeling is that they aren’t going to touch QE before next year... When Bernanke made these comments, he expected this market correction, as the market didn’t reflect fundamentals,” he added, saying that such a correction was healthy.
Economists expected the non-farm payrolls report, due at 1230 GMT, to show job growth of 170,000 in May, against 165,000 in April. The unemployment rate is seen steady at an almost 4-1/2-year low of 7.5 percent.
Roux de Luze said the market could end slightly higher if the number came in line. However, a beat by 50,000 extra jobs could prompt a sell off of up to 50 points on the FTSE 100.
Aberdeen aside, analyst recommendations and target price changes helped some stocks higher on Friday.
Glencore Xstrata climbed 2.4 percent, lifted by a target price hike from Bernstein, to 525 pence from 475 pence, and a Barclays upgrade to “overweight” helped BT Group advance 2.6 percent. (Editing by Ruth Pitchford)