FTSE falls for 5th session, led down by miners

* Miners hit by concerns over tightening in China

* Banks fall; UK Q4 GDP weaker than expected

* Defensive issues in demand

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, Jan 26 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index fell
0.5 percent by midday on Tuesday, led down by weak miners
tracking lower metals prices, and with banks pressured after
final UK fourth-quarter GDP data failed to match expectations.

By 1212 GMT, the FTSE 100 index (.FTSE: ) was off 27.28
points, or 0.5 percent, at 5,233.03, looking to take its losing
streak into a fifth straight session — something not seen since
Feb. 2009. The index dropped 0.8 percent on Monday.

The benchmark British index is down 3.4 percent this year
after gaining 22 percent in 2009.

Commodity issues, which have been under pressure over
concerns of possible tighter monetary policy in China, were in
the doldrums again as metal prices declined and crude oil (CLc1: )
dropped towards $74 a barrel.

The FTSE 100 fallers list was peppered with miners, with
Fresnillo (FRES.L: ), Xstrata (XTA.L: ), Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ) and
Lonmin (LMI.L: ) shedding 2.6 to 3.6 percent.

Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) and BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ) dropped 2.2 and
2.1 percent, respectively, after EU regulators on Monday
launched an investigation into whether a planned $116 billion
iron ore production joint venture between the two companies,
criticised by steelmakers, will curb competition.

Among weak energy stocks BP (BP.L: ), Royal Dutch Shell
(RDSa.L: ) and BG Group (BG.L: ) lost 0.3 to 0.7 percent.

Britain crept out of recession in the fourth quarter of 2009
but only just and with a far weaker growth rate than expected,
data showed on Tuesday, suggesting any monetary tightening
remains a long way off. [ID:nLDE60P0WS]

Banks were out of favour. Barclays (BARC.L: ), hurt by a
target price cut from Deutsche Bank, lost 1.6 percent, while
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: )
fell 2.2 and 2.4 percent.

“The banks remain exposed to a UK recovery and the GDP
number this morning was very anaemic despite the very
considerable support that the economy has received from the
central authorities over the last 12 months,” said Paul
Kavanagh, partner at Killik & Co.

But Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) bucked the sector trend, up
1.2 percent as Nomura raised its rating to “buy” from “neutral”
citing valuation grounds.

DEFENSIVES LIMIT LOSSES

With investor appetite for risk muted, defensive issues were
in favour. Pharmaceutical stocks were the best blue-chip
performers, helped by well-received results from Swiss peer
Novartis (NOVN.VX: ), with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ), AstraZeneca
(AZN.L: ) and Shire (SHP.L: ) putting on 0.1 to 0.6 percent.

Cigarette firm Imperial Tobacco (IMT.L: ) was a top FTSE 100
riser, while household cleaning goods group Reckitt Benckiser
(RB.L: ) added 0.7 percent.

British Airways (BAY.L: ) rose 0.6 percent as Morgan Stanley
lifted its stance on European airlines to ‘attractive’ from
‘cautious’ as it is more comfortable that passenger cargo and
capacity trends will be favourable in 2010.

Midcap airline easyJet (EZJ.L: ) climbed 3.1 percent after the
same broker upped its target price in the sector review.

Elsewhere on the second line, UK bookmakers William Hill
(WMH.L: ) and Ladbrokes (LAD.L: ) saw good demand, up 2.4 and 2.7
percent, after Cazenove upgraded its rating for both in a sector
review.

Stock Market Money
(Editing by Hans Peters)

FTSE falls for 5th session, led down by miners