July 7, 2014 / 11:31 AM / 4 years ago

Britain's FTSE retreats from highs, miners slip

* FTSE 100 index down 0.2 percent

* Miners track weaker metals

* Weir gets Citi upgrade boost

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index edged lower on Monday, with weaker metals prices prompting investors to take some money off the table after a strong rally in the previous sessions.

The UK mining index fell 1 percent, the top sectoral decliner on the blue-chip FTSE 100 index, after key metals prices fell ahead of a slew of company results and following comments from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on Sunday that global economic activity should strengthen in the second half of the year and accelerate in 2015, although momentum could be weaker than expected, hinting at a slight cut in the Fund’s growth forecasts.

“The IMF’s comments are weighing on miners as investors are taking that as an excuse to take some profits after strong gains in the recent days,” IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said.

Miners were led lower by Antofagasta, which fell 1.8 percent to become the worst performer on the FTSE 100 index. The benchmark FTSE index was down 0.2 percent at 6,851.37 points by 1109 GMT after posting its best weekly gain since early May.

Monday’s sell-off was led by cyclical sectors, with the UK banking index falling 0.4 percent and the mobile telcom index down 0.6 percent.

However, losses were capped by a rally in engineering group Weir, which rose 1.9 percent to the top of the FTSE gainers list after Citi upgraded its rating to “buy” from “neutral”, calling its oil and gas opportunities underappreciated.

Despite some weakness in the broader market, traders and technical analysts said the slight market pull-back could prove to be short-lived.

“We had a good week last week - it’s understandable that people are taking a little bit of money off the table, but the underlying market seems to be relatively robust,” Manoj Ladwa, head of trading at TJM Partners, said.

“We’re still seeing buyers come into the market, albeit in a small way given that we’re in that summer period,”

Charles Stanley technical analyst Bill McNamara said that while the index has been struggling to break above 6,900 points since the start of the year, it is still displaying strong upside momentum.

“The broader technical picture is suggesting that a test of the 1999 all-time (closing) high, at 6,930, might not be too far away now,” he said.

The sector has been volatile in recent weeks, having sold off in mid-June on prospects of a UK rate hike, only to recover towards the end of the month when the Bank of England’s curbs on house prices proved less draconian than had been feared. (Additional reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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