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AMEC leads Britain's FTSE lower after outlook disappoints

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* FTSE 100 index down 0.2 pct

* AMEC tumbles on outlook, profit taking

* Index back around 5-year high, needs new boost to push on

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE fell in early trade on Thursday, edging off five-year highs hit in the previous session and led lower by AMEC, which declined in heavy volume after giving a subdued outlook for future earnings.

AMEC shed 7 percent despite reporting in-line results, with traders citing profit-taking after a good run and a slightly more disappointing outlook than expected.

"The fairly lacklustre guidance for 2013 might lead us to lower earnings estimates for the current year," Oriel Securities said in a note.

Trading volume in AMEC reached about 40 percent of the 90-day daily average after just under an hour's trade, against the UK benchmark index on around 8 percent of its average.

"The AMEC move does look a little harsh, though it has to be weighed against a strong outperformance by the stock in 2013 so far - it looks very much like traders were pricing in a big beat," Matt Basi, head sales trader at CMC Markets, said.

By 0938 GMT the FTSE 100 index was down 11.27 points or 0.2 percent at 6,347.84, having been flat in early deals.

Rio Tinto reversed early gains, falling 0.7 percent after reporting its first ever annual loss and a 47 percent plunge in half-year underlying profit.

Drugmaker Shire also accumulated losses as the morning went on, shedding 2.4 percent ahead of results at 1200 GMT.

The market's decline came a session after the FTSE 100 index returned to a five-year high, hitting the 6,380 level for the first time since January 2008.

The FTSE 100 has seen a strong start to the year, adding 7.8 percent so far in 2013 and bringing the index back to not far from pre-credit crisis levels.

The index has tested the 6,360 level twice in the last month but both times has been unable to sustain a break above that level, with the euro zone expected to stay in recession after Europe's two largest economies, Germany and France, both shrunk markedly in the last three months of 2012.

"The European growth figures have taken a bit of the edge off, and we're at fairly high levels. Having reached key technical levels, we're having a very modest correction tracking the broader macro theme," said Jack Pollard, analyst at Sucden Financial Private Clients.

"There's no reason for us to be pushing above these levels." (Additional reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by David Holmes)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130214/amec-leads-britains-ftse-lower-after-outlook-disappoints