Miners push FTSE down 0.1 percent; BoE keeps rates low

By David Brett

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index fell 0.1 percent Thursday, halting four straight days of gains, with miners leading the fallers as copper prices weakened, though investment company Schroders gained after results.

The FTSE 100 closed 6.05 points lower at 5,527.16, having risen 4.7 percent over the last five sessions.

“It’s a case of the market running out of steam in the short-term given the rally we have had, and unless something remarkable happens on Wall Street, we could see the market end easier Friday,” said Rupert Armitage, director at Shore Capital Stockbrokers.

Miners dropped as metal prices weakened, with copper down as investors fretted demand was cooling in China while the dollar strengthened.

Fresnillo, Rio Tinto, Xstrata, Lonmin and BHP Billiton fell between 1 percent and 3.2 percent.

Energy stocks were lower after recent strength and as crude

fell 1 percent to $80 a barrel. Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group

shed 0.4 and 1.2 percent respectively.

There was no surprise when the Bank of England announced it was keeping interest rates at a record low of 0.5 percent and made no increase to its unprecedented scheme of pumping money into an economy struggling to get back on its feet.

The European Central Bank kept its main interest rate on hold at a record low of 1.0 percent for the tenth month running and said it was unwinding more of the extraordinary help it gave the eurozone economy during the global crisis.&

AMEC FALLS

Amec topped the blue chip fallers, down 6.7 percent, although the oil services and engineering group posted a 13-percent rise in full-year EBITA, with Deutsche Bank highlighting a relatively weak topline outlook.

Peer Petrofac shed 0.8 percent after the firm and Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum said they would spin off their North Sea oil assets into a new venture to be floated on the London Stock Exchange.

Evolution cut its rating for Petrofac to “neutral” from “buy” following the news.

Insurer Aviva fell 2.6 percent although it posted a better than expected 3 percent increase in 2009 profit, with brokers highlighting a weaker book value and the firm’s large pension deficit.

On the upside, Schroders was the top blue chip gainer, up 6 percent as the investment company reported an 11 percent rise in full-year pretax profit driven by rising assets under management and higher net inflows from clients.

Defensive issues were the main support for the index, with drugmakers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline up 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent respectively, while British American Tobacco gained 0.9 percent.

Banks extended their recent gains. Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland added 1-3.8 percent.

There was mixed data in the U.S. ahead of eagerly anticipated U.S. non-farm payrolls Friday.

The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, while productivity was stronger than initially thought in the fourth quarter, boosting hopes for the economic recovery.

However, contracts for pending sales of previously owned homes unexpectedly fell 7.6 percent in January, due to abnormally severe weather.

Stock Market Report

(Editing by Rupert Winchester)

Miners push FTSE down 0.1 percent; BoE keeps rates low