* FTSE 100 down 0.06 pct
* Brexit negotiation details awaited
* Gains in mining stocks provide support
* Ashtead a top gainer after Liberum 'buy'
* Old Mutual, Schroders, Prudential go ex-div
(Adds details, closing prices)
By Helen Reid
LONDON, March 30 Britain's FTSE 100
ended little changed on Thursday with mining stocks providing
the most support, while stocks trading without their dividends
weighed on the market.
The benchmark index edged down 0.06 percent as several
heavyweight stocks went ex-div: Old Mutual, Schroders
, Smith & Nephew, and Prudential fell
between 1.2 percent and 1.7 percent.
However, the mining sector - boosted by strong metals prices
- provided support. Glencore, Rio Tinto and
Anglo American gained between 1 percent and 2.3 percent.
Also dragging on the FTSE, SSE shares fell 1.5
percent after the energy supplier said dividend cover for its
2017/18 financial year would be at the lower end of guidance.
The London Stock Exchange, fresh from disappointment
over a planned merger with Deutsche Boerse being
scuppered by the EU antitrust regulator, was up 0.8 percent.
"While a takeover of LSEG is not central to our positive
thesis, we acknowledge that industry consolidation and the
takeover potential should provide valuation support and is
helpful to our positive thesis," RBC analysts said in a note,
resuming coverage of the stock with an "outperform" rating.
Among other gainers, Ashtead rose 2.4 percent after
Liberum initiated coverage of the construction equipment rental
company with a "buy", saying rental penetration in the U.S.
market would drive growth for its North American segment, which
contributes 86 percent of revenue.
"The upside potential from increased rental penetration in
the U.S. market is yet to be fully reflected in Ashtead's share
price, in our view," Liberum analysts said.
Among standout mid-cap movers, Petra Diamonds surged
9.7 percent after it refinanced its debt, while RPC
slumped 7.7 percent with one trader saying a lack of
detail over its guidance disappointed investors.
Small-cap Carr's Group dropped 17 percent, its
worst losses for 16 years after the agriculture and engineering
firm cut its expectations for full-year performance.
Analysts said the market was waiting for Britain to set out
its plan for converting EU laws into domestic law in a White
Paper later on Thursday, and EU Council President Donald Tusk to
give negotiating guidelines to the 27 member states by Friday.
Investors called for a renewed focus on fundamentals ahead
of the long Brexit process.
"We have got a minimum of two years, and realistically much
longer, to figure out how it all falls into place," said Ian
Williams, economics and strategy analyst at Peel Hunt.
"We are in completely uncharted territory, many things can
change. So from an equity standpoint all you can do is take a
step back and look at your companies, and at the macro picture."
(Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Louise