* FTSE 100 down 0.15 pct
* Mid-caps hit fresh record
* Homeserve surges to record high on results beat
* Results disappointment sends Topps Tiles down
(Adds details, closing prices)
By Helen Reid
LONDON, May 23 British shares fell slightly on
Tuesday as losses among miners more than offset stronger banks,
while solid earnings results among mid-cap companies drove the
FTSE 250 to a fresh all-time high.
The FTSE 100 index of Britain's largest companies
ended down 0.15 percent, reversing earlier gains but still near
last Tuesday's record level of 7,533.70 points, while the FTSE
250 added 0.04 percent to reach 19,920.12 points.
"I think there are reasons why the market can go higher from
here. It doesn't look expensive versus earnings growth, and it
doesn't look expensive in historical terms," said Callum Abbot,
UK equity fund manager at JP Morgan Asset Management.
"The market is trading at 15 times forward earnings, which
doesn't seem unreasonable given you are looking at earnings
growth in the mid-teens." He pointed also to the index's yield
being relatively higher than other developed equity markets.
Blue-chip gains were underpinned by banks RBS and
Barclays, and defence contractor Babcock.
Babcock rose 2.9 percent, the biggest gainer on the FTSE,
after a positive note from Deutsche Bank saying the stock could
rebound if the firm reports solid results on Wednesday.
Among top gainers, EasyJet rose 2.5 percent after a
top-rated RBC analyst upgraded the stock, saying the airline had
reached its profit nadir, and pointing to an expanding gap of
strong customer rankings versus competitors.
The airline's shares recovered all the lost ground since a
badly-received earnings update last week sent the stock
Miners dragged on the index after shares in conglomerate
Noble Group sold off sharply in Singapore, with the firm forced
to halt trading after a 32 percent plunge as ratings agency S&P
downgraded it on weak cash flows and profitability.
Glencore, BHP, Rio Tinto and
Randgold Resources all fell between 0.6 and 1.6 percent.
Merlin, which runs London attractions including
Madame Tussauds waxworks and the aquarium and is exposed to
tourism, was among the biggest fallers, down 1.5 percent after
Monday's deadly attack in Manchester.
The European travel and leisure sector < .SXTP> was down 0.3
More domestically focused mid-cap stocks
outperformed large-caps again, hitting a fresh record high of
19,984.66 points during the session as company results
Home emergency insurance provider Homeserve surged
more than 10 percent to a record high after its full-year
results beat expectations.
"Homeserve has increased investment in its front line staff
and network," said Liberum analysts, adding that the firm's
acquisition of online trader listings website Checkatrade in
February could boost its access to an as yet untapped clientele.
Britain's biggest sandwich maker Greencore jumped
7.3 percent after its results came in ahead of expectations,
alleviating investors' concerns about inflation denting consumer
appetite, with what Jefferies analysts called 'reassuring
commentary' around inflation recovery.
Small-cap tile retailer Topps Tiles was less upbeat
about the economy, pointing to a challenging trading environment
and saying full-year profit would come in at the low end of
analysts' expectations. Its shares fell 6.6 percent, the top
(Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Catherine