FTSE flat; weak miners offset gains by banks

* Commodities fall; metal prices down on demand outlook

* Banks higher; Bank of America results beat forecasts

* Airlines grounded by volcanic ash cloud

By Simon Falush

LONDON, April 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Weak miners, dented by easier
metal prices on demand concerns, outweighed gains made by bank
stocks, supported by strong earnings from their U.S. peers, to
leave Britain’s top share index flat by midsession on Friday.

At 1147 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was down 0.16 points at
5,815.71, having retreated from a fresh 22 month intraday peak
of 5,833.73 hit earlier in the session.

On Friday first-quarter results from General Electric (GE.N: )
and Bank of America (BAC.N: ) came in ahead of forecast, giving a
slight boost to the market by mid-session.

But investors will await more U.S. quarterly results next
week, from companies including Goldman Sachs (GS.N: ) CocaCola
(KO.N: ) and Apple (AAPL.O: ), for more evidence of a robust
recovery.

“There’s a bit of wait and see ahead of the bulk of U.S.
results next week, but the broad outline is that earnings are
looking good, with growth stronger than expected in the U.S.,”
said Steven Bell, director at hedge fund GLC.

Mining stocks were the worst blue chip performers as metal
prices eased back on demand concerns after data on Thursday
showing growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector was offset by an
unexpected spike in weekly joblesss numbers. [ID:nN15325702].

Vedanta Resources (VED.L: ), Xstrata (XTA.L: ). BHP Billiton
(BLT.L: ) and Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) were among the biggest FTSE 100
fallers, down 1.3 to 2.9 percent.

Howard Wheeldon, analyst at BGC, said investors were also
wary after a debate between the leaders of the three major UK
political parties highlighted the possibility that an upcoming
general election may leave no party in overall control.

“The UK market is going into a wait-and-see situation (ahead
of the election), the nervousness has increased, the
teeth-chattering has got louder but fortunately the global
markets look a bit sounder.”

The FTSE 100 is up percent so far this year after it added
22 percent in 2009, and has been in positive territory for seven
consecutive weeks.

BANKS FIRMER

On the upside, banks were higher with Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS.: ) topping the FTSE gainers list, up 8 percent after bullish
notes from BofA Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ), Barclays (BARC.L: ) and
Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) put on 0.5 to 2.0 percent.

Energy shares, some of the biggest gainers on Thursday,
retreated as crude (CLc1: ) slipped back below $85 a barrel,
roiled by pre-expiry trading on options and a stronger dollar.

BP (BP.L: ), BG Group (BG.L: ), Tullow Oil (TLW.L: ) and Cairn
Energy (CNE.L: ) fell 0.3 to 1.1 percent.

European airlines were weaker as a huge ash cloud from an
Icelandic volcano continued to ground planes across Northern
Europe causing air travel chaos there and beyond.

British Airways (BAY.L: ) dropped 1.3 percent. But
second-liner easyJet (EZJ.L: ) outperformed, steady after Merrill
Lynch upgraded its rating on the low-cost carrier.

Imperial Tobacco (IMT.L: ) and British American Tobacco
(BATS.L: ) shed 0.9 and 0.2 percent respectively after Britain’s
consumer affairs watchdog handed a record fine to two tobacco
firms and nine retailers for price fixing.[ID:nLDE63F08S]

Money

(Additional reporting by David Brett; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

FTSE flat; weak miners offset gains by banks