FTSE sheds 0.3 pct as commods, banks retreat

* Commodity issues lower as crude, metal prices fall

* Banks weak on Greek uncertainties, awaiting U.S. results

* Defensive stocks gain ground; Diageo buoyed by LVMH

By Jon Hopkins

LONDON, April 13 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s leading shares shed
0.3 percent on Tuesday as oils and miners fell back on lower
commodity prices, while banks moved lower on investor caution
ahead of first-quarter results in the United States.

At the close, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was down 15.99 points at
5,761.66, having been stuck in a tight 37 point trading range
throughout the session.

Integrated oils were the main fallers on the FTSE 100 index,
dropping back as the crude price (CLc1: ) fell 2 percent to below
$83 a barrel on supply concerns. BP (BP.L: ), BG Group (BG.L: ), and
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) shed 0.1 to 1.8 percent.

Miners were also a big drag on the blue chips as metal
prices retreated on the demand outlook, while results from U.S.
aluminium group Alcoa (AA.N: ), the first of the earnings season,
arrived in-line on earnings but light on revenues.

Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ), Lonmin (LMI.L: ), Fresnillo (FRES.L: ),
Vedanta Resources (VED.L: ), Randgold Resources (RRS.L: ),
Antofagasta (ANTO.L: ), Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC.L: ) and
Xstrata (XTA.L: ) fell 1.6 to 3.2 percent.

“With U.S. earnings now the main focus, and Wall Street
retreating, investors are happier to switch from risk and sell
down the heavyweight miners, oils and banks,” said Mic Mills,
senior trader at ETX Capital.

U.S. blue chips (.DJI: ) were 0.1 percent lower by London’s
close with investors nervous ahead of the earnings deluge and
with rumours Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke might change
his guidance language in a Congressional testimony due to be
delivered on Wednesday.

U.S. tech bellwether Intel Corp (INTC.O: ) will release
first-quarter numbers after the Wall Street close on Tuesday,
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 lower in London as investors trimmed holdings in
ahead of the results from their U.S. peers, with Barclays
(BARC.L: ), Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ), Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS.L: ) and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) down 0.5 to 1.4
percent.

Investor caution on Greek debt problems also undermined
sentiment although the country easily sold a total of 1.2
billion euros ($1.63 billion) of 6-month and one-year T-bills.

Bond fund Pimco, however, said it would not be buying new
Greek debt as it thinks a euro zone rescue package fails to
tackle the country’s longer-term solvency challenges.

DEFENSIVES DOMINANT

As investors switched out of riskier perceived assets,
defensive issues swung back in to in favour.

Drug firms stood out, with AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ) and
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) ahead 0.1 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Drinks group Diageo (DGE.L: ) was also in demand, up 1.8
percent helped by results from French luxury goods firm LVMH
(LVMH.PA: ) which showed strong quarterly sales from its wine and
spirits division.

Food retailers were higher, with Tesco (TSCO.L: ), Sainsbury,
and WM Morrison taking on 0.6 to 1.4 percent, while general
retailers Kingfisher (KGF.L: ), Next (NXT.L: ), Home Retail Group
(HOME.L: ) and Marks & Spencer (MKS.L: ) gained 0.2 to 2.7 percent
after an upbeat British Retail Consortium monthly 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]

Mid cap department store group Debenhams (DEB.L: ), however,
was an exception, off 2.9 percent as some caution over current
trading offset an above-forecast rise in first-half profits.
[ID:nLDE63B098]

Meanwhile, Britain’s trade deficit narrowed to 6.179 billion
pounds ($9.49 billion) in February, its smallest since June
2006, after exports rebounded strongly from weather-related
weakness in January. [ID:nLDE63C0RY]

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(Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

FTSE sheds 0.3 pct as commods, banks retreat