Britain’s FTSE down 0.3 pct as commods retreat

* Commodity issues retreat after recent gains

* Real Estate helped by UBS upgrades; Brit Land downgraded

* Next, Kingfisher also boosted by broker comment

By Jon Hopkins

LONDON, April 7 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top shares shed 0.3
percent in early trade on Wednesday, as investors booked profits
in heavyweight commodity issues after the index reached 21-month
highs during the previous session.

At 0752 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) index was down 15.29
points at 5,765.06 having ended up 35.46 points, or 0.6 percent,
on Tuesday thanks to gains by commodity stocks.

Energy shares were the biggest drag on blue-chip sentiment
as crude prices (CLc1: ) slipped back slightly after recent strong
gains. BP (BP.L: ), BG Group (BG.L: ), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: )
and Cairn Energy (CNE.L: ) lost 0.4 to 0.8 percent.

“It’s no real surprise that the market has slipped back a
bit. Obviously there is going to be a bit of nervousness now
heading towards the British election, but the corporate picture
remains bright, so there should be some underlying support,”
said Henk Potts, market strategist at Barclays Wealth.

Miners also retreated after posting good gains on Tuesday as
metal prices drifted back, with Xstrata (XTA.L: ), Rio Tinto
(RIO.L: ), BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ), Anglo American (AAL.L: ) and
Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ) down between 1.4 and 2 percent.

Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) expects to see a “meaningful” deficit in
global copper supply next year after a balanced market this
year, with China likely forced to draw down strategic reserves
to help meet demand, the company’s top copper division executive
said on Tuesday. [ID:nN06230180]

Anglo American (AAL.L: ) warned on Tuesday that global copper
supply could be constrained for the next decade, with miners
struggling to squeeze more metal out of declining grades and a
shortage of quality projects. [ID:nN06244190]

Mobile telecoms heavyweight Vodafone (VOD.L: ) was also a drag
on the FTSE 100, down 1.2 percent as hopes for a resolution of
the future of its U.S. joint venture with Verizon (VZ.N: ) faded.

Ex-dividend factors knocked 2.28 points off the index on
Wednesday, with Prudential (PRU.L: ), British Land (BLND.L: ) and
Pearson (PSON.L: ) all now trading without entitlement to their
next dividend.

British Land suffered after UBS cut its stance to “neutral”
from “buy” in a review of the UK real estate sector.

However, peers Land Securities (LAND.L: ) and Hammersom
(HMSO.L: ) both got a boost from the broker, with UBS raising its
stance on both to “buy” from “neutral”. Land Securities added
2.5 percent, and Hammerson gained 2.3 percent.

Broker comment gave a lift to two blue-chip retailers, with
Next (NXT.L: ) taking on 1.9 percent after Citigroup upgraded its
stance to “buy” from “hold”, while Kingfisher (KGF.L: ) firmed 1.5
percent after BofA Merrill Lynch hiked its target price.

MAN ALIVE

Man Group (EMG.L: ) was the top FTSE 100 gainer, jumping 5.9
percent after the hedge fund firm’s flagship AHL fund saw a 3.81
percent rise in its weekly net asset value, and as Execution
Noble started coverage on the stock with a “buy” rating.

But broker comment also created some fallers, with insurer
Admiral (ADML.L: ) dropping 1.4 percent after UBS cut its stance
to “neutral” from “buy”, while private equity firm 3i Group
(III.L: ) shed 0.9 percent as Evolution trimmed its rating to
“add” from “buy” on valuation grounds.

Ahead of Thursday’s Bank of England interest rate decision,
investors will watch UK services PMI data for March, due at 0828
GMT, for further guidance on how fast Britain’s economy is
coming out of recession.

A strengthening of the services sector kept Britain’s
recovery on track in the first three months of this year, but
manufacturing stagnated, a survey by the British Chambers of
Commerce released overnight showed. [ID:nLDE6351A6]

And British shop price inflation slowed last month to its
weakest pace since November, restrained by the smallest rise in
food prices for three years, a survey by the British Retail
Consortium showed. [ID:nLDE6350TF]

Stock Market Investing

(Editing by Will Waterman)

Britain’s FTSE down 0.3 pct as commods retreat