(ADVISORY- Follow European and UK stock markets in real time on
the Reuters Live Markets blog on Eikon, see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets)
* FTSE 100 down 0.5 pct
* Banks among those falling the most
* Ex-divs also weigh
* AB Foods boosted by upgrade
By Kit Rees
LONDON, April 13 Britain's top share index
declined on Thursday, with financials in the spotlight as U.S.
banks were set to report earnings, though volumes were light
ahead of a market holiday.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.5 percent at
7,311.88 points by 0945 GMT, in line with a broader decline on
The FTSE 100 was on track to post a slight loss for the
Financials weighed on the FTSE 100, taking off nearly 12
points. Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Standard
Chartered and Barclays all fell by 1 percent
to 1.6 percent, as investors anticipated earnings releases from
their U.S. counterparts later in the day.
"Banks are on offer this morning, and we think that's ...
because it's reporting season for the U.S. banks, so a bit of a
choppy day in the banking sector globally," John Moore, trader
at Berkeley Capital, said. "We're seeing a bit of risk-off ahead
of the bank holiday weekend."
Energy stocks were the biggest drag on the index, taking off
around 15 points. BP and Royal Dutch Shell both
were down around 1.4 percent as the price of oil edged lower.
Stocks trading without rights to their latest dividend
payout dragged, including Standard Life, which dropped
3.5 percent and was the biggest individual faller.
Primark-owner Associated British Foods jumped 3.4
percent to its highest level since the beginning of January
after Jefferies raised its rating on the stock to a "buy",
citing continued strength in sugar and a turn in Primark margins
"The 19 April interims should confirm strong results ...
thanks to fx translation boost and a sugar rebound. We also
expect a more assured message on the Primark margin outlook,"
analysts at Jefferies said in a note.
Precious metals miners were also in demand, with Fresnillo
and Randgold Resources both gaining more than
The underlying price of gold hit a five-month peak as
investors sought safe-haven assets amid rising geopolitical
tensions over U.S. relations with Russia and North Korea. A
weaker U.S. dollar also helped.
(Reporting by Kit Rees, editing by Larry King)