December 29, 2016 / 12:29 PM / 8 months ago

Britain's FTSE steadies near highs in thin trading

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* FTSE 100 little changed by midday

* Trading volume 11 pct of 90-day average

* Miners and banks among top fallers

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index steadied in thin holiday trading on Thursday after setting a record closing high in the previous session, with miners coming under pressure following a drop in prices of major industrial metals.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was flat in percentage terms by midday after finishing on Wednesday at 7,106.08, its highest ever close.

However, trading remained thin as many industry players were away from their desks. Volumes on the FTSE 100 were just 11 percent of its 90-day daily average by 1210 GMT.

"Equities are on the back foot on the last full trading session of the year, with investors taking profits and some risk off the table," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.

"Miners and financials are in a tug of war with defensives."

The UK mining index fell 0.4 percent after copper prices fell as markets fretted about the potential for a liquidity crunch in top consumer China.

Shares in Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Antofagasta fell 0.5 to 0.8 percent. However, despite some sell-off in the past sessions, the index has surged 100 percent this year to become the best sector performer.

Miners have helped the benchmark FTSE 100 to lead major European stock indexes in 2016. The UK index is up nearly 14 percent this year, against a 1.4 percent fall seen by the pan-European STOXX 600 index. Italy's FTSE MIB index is down 10 percent, the worst performer in Europe following concerns about the health of its banking sector.

UK banks also fell, with the sector index down 0.4 percent following further weakness in Italian banks after the country's economy minister said the actual amount for the government's recapitalisation of Monte dei Paschi would depend on the lender's new industrial plan.

Shares in Barclays, Standard Chartered and Lloyds were down around 1 percent.

However, gold miners were in demand after gold prices rose to their highest level in two weeks. Fresnillo rose 2.7 percent, the top gainer in the FTSE 100 index, while Randgold Resources was up 1.7 percent. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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