* FTSE 100 ends flat
* Housing stocks rally
* Energy shares, miners weak
(Recasts, adds detail and updates prices at close)
By Kit Rees and Atul Prakash
LONDON, Feb 8 Britain's top share index steadied
on Wednesday, underperforming European peers, as a drop in
energy stock prices prompted by oil price weakness offset a
rally led by housing stocks.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed flat in
percentage terms at 7,188.82 points, after ending marginally
higher in the previous session. In contrast, the pan-European
STOXX 600 index was up 0.3 percent higher in a choppy
Britain's mid cap index, however, ended at a fresh
record closing level, up 0.3 percent. Housebuilder Redrow
was among the biggest gainers on the FTSE 250, up 4
percent after posting a rise in first half profit.
"We have had a BUY recommendation on (Redrow) for a while
and we stick with that both for absolute potential gain and also
as part of our wider view that the midcap house builders offer
much better value than the larger caps," Robin Hardy, analyst at
Shore Capital Markets, said in a note.
Blue chip peers Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and
Barratt Developments were also among the biggest risers
on the FTSE 100, all up between 2.3 percent to 3 percent.
However, commodity-linked stocks fell. After rallying
earlier in the session, Rio Tinto ended 1.7 percent
lower, though the world's No. 2 iron ore miner beat profit
forecasts on the back of cost-cutting and a strong recovery in
iron ore prices and said it would pay a bigger-than-expected
"Mining companies are price-takers and have no control over
commodity markets, but Rio has made ground by cutting cash costs
and scaling back the dividend," Hargreaves Lansdown analyst
Laith Khalaf said.
Rio shares have more than doubled since early 2016, and
analysts cited some profit-taking on Wednesday after Rio's
shares touched their highest level in four years earlier in the
The UK mining index fell 1.6 percent, with BHP
Billiton and Glencore dropping 3.4 percent and
1.8 percent respectively.
Gains were also negated by weaker energy stocks. The UK oil
and gas index fell 1.3 percent after oil prices
extended Tuesday's falls earlier in the session following a
massive increase in U.S. fuel inventories and a slump in Chinese
"Energy shares have been weighed on by a surprisingly large
U.S. API oil inventory build, stoking fears that rising U.S.
shale production will outweigh OPEC cuts deigned to rebalance
the global oil market," Accendo Markets analyst Henry Croft
Shares in Royal Dutch Shell and BP fell 1.5
percent and 0.3 percent respectively, while mid-cap Tullow Oil
was down 5.4 percent.
(Reporting by Kit Rees and Atul Prakash; Editing by Gareth