Insurers drag down European shares, FTSE holds near record

LONDON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - European shares headed lower for a second straight session on Thursday after recent strong gains, with insurers leading the market lower after JP Morgan cut its rating for several companies in the sector.

RSA Insurance fell 2.2 percent after JP Morgan downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “overweight”, while Hannover Rueck fell 2.7 percent after the investment bank cut its price target to 102 euros from 108 euros.

The European insurance index was down 0.9 percent, the biggest faller in the pan-European STOXX 600 index, which fell 0.3 percent. The STOXX 600, which hit a one-year high on Tuesday, closed 0.1 percent lower in the previous session.

Worst performer across the European benchmark was Rolls Royce which fell more than 3 percent. The stock suffered a price target at JPMorgan.

Rolls-Royce led the loser board on Britain’s FTSE 100 index which held near record highs underpinned by a 1.3 percent rise in the UK mining index following an increase in industrial metals prices on brightening outlook for Chinese metals demand.

Embattled retailer Next PLC fell another 2 percent in early trades setting its shares up for the worst three-day loss in nearly two decades. (Reporting by Atul Prakash and Helen Reid, Editing by Vikram Subhedar)