* FTSE down 0.2 pct
* Worries over Ukraine weigh on global stock markets
* BP (LSE: BP.L – news) exposed through Rosneft stake
* Defensive stocks such as Sainsbury (Berlin: SUY1.BE – news) rally
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) – Britain’s top equity index fell on Monday, as mounting geopolitical tensions over Ukraine troubled investors and weighed on oil company BP and the broader market.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.2 percent, or 9.55 points, at 6,552.15 points in late session trading.
A 1.2 percent fall at BP took the most points off the FTSE, because of the company’s exposure to Russia through its stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft.
Russian financial assets were hit as Ukraine’s president threatened military action after pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in the east ignored an ultimatum to leave.
“The market’s a bit slack today on the back of the Ukraine situation. The FTSE could easily go sideways over the next three months,” said Toby Campbell-Gray, head of trading at Tavira Securities.
The FTSE pared back some earlier losses as the U.S. stock market rose following better-than-expected quarterly net profits at Wall Street bank Citigroup (NYSE: C – news) .
However, investors’ nervousness over the situation in Ukraine, and the risk that it could push markets lower in coming days, was reflected in the fact that retail and food stocks – seen as “defensive” plays in times of uncertainty – were the best performers.
Supermarket retailer Sainsbury rose 3.6 percent to top the FTSE’s leaderboard of best-performing stocks, while household products company Reckitt Benckiser (Xetra: A0M1W6 – news) progressed by 2.7 percent.
“It’s understandable that people are going for defensive stocks today, given the worries that the market could fall further in the near term,” said Cavendish Asset Management fund manager Paul Mumford.
The FTSE rose 14.4 percent in 2013 and reached a peak of 6,867.42 points in late January this year, its highest level since early 2000.
However, concerns about Ukraine and other emerging markets have since knocked the market off those levels, and the FTSE is now down around 3 percent since the start of 2014.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)