Miners pull FTSE down after Alcoa disappointment

* FTSE 100 falls 1 percent; back below 6,000 level

* Miners fall after Alcoa revenue misses forecasts

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) – Britain’s top share index fell
on Tuesday, pressured by falls in mining firms in response to
disappointment over earnings from Alcoa (AA.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

By 1113 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: Quote, Profile, Research) was down 57.98 points, or
1 percent, at 5,995.46, after ending almost flat on Monday.

The index is heading for its lowest close since early March.

“Investors are looking at where we’ve been over the course
of the past few months (from a global perspective), and they’re
saying it’s going to be hard to maintain this kind of strength
going forward, Peter Dixon, an economist at Commerzbank, said.

“(Elevated oil prices) could be another factor which acts as
a brake — at a time when central banks are beginning to think
about, if not actually, tightening monetary policy.”

But Dixon added that he remained bullish on U.S. earnings,
and while UK domestic corporate results “might be a different
story”, the general trend for many key markets is that earnings
are expected to perform “moderately well”.

Miners (.FTNMX1770: Quote, Profile, Research) dropped after aluminium maker Alcoa Inc
(AA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) reported a first-quarter revenue that missed forecasts
[ID:nN1199754]. Copper prices fell in response to Japan’s
worsening nuclear crisis and aftershocks which have weakened
prospects for economic recovery and metals demand growth in the
world’s third-largest economy. [ID:nLDE73B0WS]

With investors’ confidence undermined, traders noted a flow
into defensively perceived stocks such as tobaccos,
pharmaceuticals, and utilities.

Drugmakers Shire (SHP.L: Quote, Profile, Research), AstraZeneca (AZN.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: Quote, Profile, Research) were near the top of the FTSE 100 leader
board, up 1.1 percent, 0.9 percent, and 0.8 percent.

A note from Charles Stanley described the broader technical
picture for GlaxoSmithKline — which hit its highest closing
level on Monday since January after rallying strongly from a
March low of 1,127.50 pence — as “encouraging”.

“The price action of the last few months suggests that the
double-bottom has formed in the region of 1,128 pence, while the
magnitude of this pattern is indicating that there is still room
for further upside in the near term,” the broker said.

The same broker also highlighted United Utilities (UU.L: Quote, Profile, Research),
saying that a recent show of strength had lifted the stock up to
a level where resistance has kicked in, and “in the event that
resistance is exceeded we should expect to see a run back up to
the highs, in the region of 634 pence”, it said.

Some weakness was seen among retailers after the British
Retail Consortium said UK retail sales fell at their fastest
annual pace in nearly six years in March as high inflation and
low wage growth dragged down consumer spending.

Next (NXT.L: Quote, Profile, Research) slipped 0.3 percent, while Marks & Spencer
(MKS.L: Quote, Profile, Research) dropped 0.2 percent.

British inflation eased in March for the first time since
last summer as grocers cut food prices, providing the Bank of
England with some leeway to hold interest rates steady to
support the still shaky economy.

Cruise operator Carnival (CCL.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and International
Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAG.L: Quote, Profile, Research) were the top blue-chip
risers, both up 3.1 percent, as Brent crude (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) retreated
from a 32-month high of $127.02 a barrel hit on Monday.

Technical analysis for the FTSE 100 showed that overall, the
main trend is decisively higher.

“The series of higher-tops and higher-bottoms suggests that
traders are preventing the market from overheating by backing
off at new highs, but maintaining the uptrend by stepping in on
breaks at value areas,” James Hyerczyk, an analyst at
Autochartist, said.

“This pattern is likely to continue until the market tests
the high for the year at 6,105.77.”
(Editing by Jane Merriman)

Miners pull FTSE down after Alcoa disappointment