Weaker miners, retailers drag Britain's FTSE index lower

* FTSE 100 index falls 0.3 percent

* Miners top sectoral fallers, retailers down

* SABMiller (LSE: SAB.L – news) shares fall after sales data

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) – Britain’s top share index edged down in cautious trading on Tuesday, led down by miners on concerns about rising supply and slowing demand for metals, with poor retail sales data also weighing on the market.

The UK mining index fell 1.2 percent, the biggest sectoral decliner, as prices of major industrial metals fell 0.6 to 2.8 percent. Copper fell further on worries that increased supplies and slowing growth in China would hurt demand in the world’s biggest metals-consuming country.

The mining index was led lower by global miner Rio Tinto (Xetra: 855018 – news) , which fell 1.6 percent after saying its iron ore shipments fell 8 percent in the first-quarter due to disruptions in Australia and Canada.

The FTSE 100 index was down 0.3 percent at 6,565.84 points by 0817 GMT, also pressured by weaker retail stocks after data showing UK retail sales took their biggest fall last month since April 2013, hurt by unfavourable year-on-year comparisons due to the late timing of Easter this year.

J. Sainsbury (Berlin: SUY1.BE – news) , Morrison Supermarkets, Tesco (Frankfurt: TS3.F – news) and Kingfisher (LSE: KGF.L – news) fell 0.5 to 1.7 percent.

“The retail sales figures are not as bad as they seem, but investors are cautious. In the near term, we are going to see a crab-like movement in the market,” David Battersby, investment manager at Redmayne-Bentley, said.

He said the market could get some direction in the third quarter by when the Ukrainian situation would probably stabilise, traders were back from summer holidays and people would have a better idea about the policies of central banks.

Investors remained wary of developments in Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists occupied more buildings in the eastern part of the country and ignored an ultimatum to leave government offices they had taken over. The European Union has agreed to step up sanctions against Russia.

The market is also keeping a close eye on corporate earnings results.

“We caution against having all Easter eggs in one basket with big guns – Bank of America (TLO: BAC.TI – news) , Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB – news) and Morgan Stanley (Berlin: DWD.BE – news) – still to report (this week). If they can please investors, financials could help reignite positive sentiment,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.

Among other sharp moves, brewer SABMiller was one of the biggest fallers, dropping 1.9 percent after disappointing full-year sales, triggering profit-taking on a stock that trades at a premium to all its peers.

However, Aggreko (LSE: AGK.L – news) , the world’s biggest temporary power provider, bucked the trend and rose 2.6 percent after posting a 5 percent rise in group revenue in the first quarter of the year and saying it expected to meet expectations for 2014.

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