FTSE down as miners weigh; U.S. earnings key

* FTSE down 0.1 percent

* Miners pressured by weaker metal prices

* Defensive stocks gain slightly

By Simon Falush

LONDON, April 13 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index
retreated slightly in early trade on Tuesday, weighed on by
weaker miners as metal prices fell, while banks also retreated
on investor caution ahead of first-quarter results in the United
States.

By 0817 GMT the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was 3.04 points, or 0.1
percent lower at 5,774.61, having gained 6.67 points or 0.1
percent on Monday.

Miners were the biggest drag on the index, dented by softer
metal prices as uncertainty on the demand outlook held sway,
while results from U.S. aluminium group Alcoa (AA.N: ), released
overnight, were in-line on earnings but light on revenues.

Xstrata (XTA.L: ), Lonmin (LMI.L: ), Anglo American (AAL.L: ),
Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ) and BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ) fell 0.1-1.7 percent.

“Earnings and revenues were not too bad from last quarter
and expectations are quite high, so people are waiting to see
how the results are and how the market will react,” said David
Morrison, market strategist at GFT Global.

Tech bellwether Intel Corp (INTC.O: ) will release
first-quarter numbers later in the day, while other major U.S.
companies due to report results this week include JPMorgan Chase
(JPM.N: ), Google (GOOG.O: ), Bank of America (BAC.N: ) and General
Electric (GE.N: ).

Banks were mostly lower as investors trimmed holdings in
assets they perceived as relatively risky ahead of the U.S.
results, while uncertainty about Greek debt problems also
weighed on the sector.

Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ), Barclays (BARC.L: ), HSBC
(HSBA.L: ) and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) fell 0.1-0.8 percent.

DEFENSIVE SUPPORT

Defensive stocks were generally in favour as investors
sought positions in lower risk assets. Pharmaceuticals firms
AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) added 0.2 and
0.6 percent respectively, while drinks producer Diageo (DGE.L: )
gained 1.5 percent.

Plumbing supplies firm Wolseley (WOS.L: ) was also one of the
strongest performers, up 1.2 percent after BofA Merrill Lynch
added the stock to its Europe 1 investment list.

Department store group Debenhams (DEB.L: ) was among the top
mid cap losers, down 2.6 percent although it beat forecasts with
an 18.6 percent rise in first-half profits, with some analysts
saying that current trading looked less positive.

But other retailers were higher, with Kingfisher (KGF.L: ),
Next (NXT.L: ), Home Retail Group (HOME.L: ) and Marks & Spencer
(MKS.L: ) ahead 0.8 to 1.7 percent, following an upbeat British
Retail Consortium survey.

British retail sales rose at their fastest pace in a year in
March but the figures were flattered by the earlier timing of
Easter this year, the BRC said. [ID:nLAG006237]

Meanwhile the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said
British house prices grew last month at their slowest pace since
July after the amount of new property coming on to the market
grew faster than the number of new buyers.

RICS said its monthly house price balance dropped to +9 in
March from an upwardly revised +18 in February, confounding
economists who had forecast a rise to +19. [ID:nLAG006236]

Investors were also awaiting February UK trade figures, due
at 0830 GMT.

No significant U.S. economic data is due for release on
Tuesday.

Investment Tools

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

FTSE down as miners weigh; U.S. earnings key