* FTSE 100 falls 0.3 pct; lowest close in 10 days
* Energy stocks biggest fallers as crude prices drop
* Financials slip; but defensive shares in demand
LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index ended in negative territory for a fourth consecutive session on Friday as weakness in commodity stocks and banks outweighed gains from defensive pharmaceuticals.
The FTSE 100 .FTSE ended down 16.29 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,251.41 points, the lowest close since Nov 10. It ended down 1.4 percent on Thursday, its biggest one-day fall for three weeks. The index is still up 52 percent from a March low.
“Sentiment appears to have started to shift slightly away from further gains, and towards a possible rebound in the U.S. dollar, as investors start to take money off the table and become slightly more risk averse,” Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.
BHP Billiton BLT.L fell 1 percent. A leading Chilean mine union threatened to halt output at mines owned by BHP in solidarity with strikers at its Spence deposit, fanning supply disruption fears in the top copper producer. [ID:nN20226032]
A broker downgrade weighed on Rio Tinto RIO.L, off 1.1 percent, with Credit Suisse cutting its rating on the stock to "underperform".
Thomas Cook TCG.L and TUI Travel TT.L were the two biggest blue-chip fallers, shedding 4.3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, after Morgan Stanley downgraded its ratings for the travel companies, citing a weaker operating environment and more expensive debt refinancing. [ID:nBNG495215]
DEFENSIVES IN DEMAND
Defensive stocks were in demand as investors turned to assets perceived as safe bets.
SABMiller SAB.L extended gains made on Thursday in the wake of its first-half results, rising 0.9 percent as a raft of brokers upgraded their target prices for the world's No. 2 brewer. Diageo DGE.L, the world's biggest spirits group, added 0.4 percent.
Telecoms firm Cable & Wireless CW.L rose 1.8 percent, bolstered by an upgrade to "overweight" by JP Morgan, and with news of a deal with Tesco TSCO.L to supply it with wholesale broadband services also lending support.
Analysts said the market might witness profit-taking in the short term.
“The path of least resistance on a very short-term basis is to try and take it back a little bit,” said Stephen Pope, chief global market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.
“But if you start looking at some of the forward earnings projections into 2010, it does indicate that we should actually trade these markets to better levels,” he said. (Editing by David Cowell)
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