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Miners top movers as Britain's FTSE stalls

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* FTSE 100 flat

* Randgold and Fresnillo lead fallers after Citi downgrade

* Anglo a top riser as it draws line under troubled year

* Index struggling to push through 5 year highs

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The mining sector provided some of the best and worst performers on a mixed day for UK shares on Friday, as Britain's top index struggled to make headway around five-year highs.

Randgold and Fresnillo led fallers, shedding 3.6 and 3.4 percent respectively after Citigroup recommended selling both on concerns over waning momentum in gold and silver prices, as gold prices slid to a six month low.

However, Anglo American was among the top gainers on the index, adding 2 percent after its falling profits came in better than the market had expected and it raised its dividend to woo investors.

Anglo has also been dogged by wildcat strikes at many of its South African mines.

"It's a volatile environment for the commodity market and the mining sector. There's a bit of a battle going on in investors heads as they try and gauge the demand picture moving forward and the supply problems and strikes that have dogged production in recent months," Henk Potts, strategist at Barclays said.

"Markets tend to price in what is likely to happen in the future rather than what is happening at the moment," he added, saying that a pick up in demand over the coming year in China could help allay worries over a poor earnings season.

A strong start to the year for European stocks has largely stalled since the end of January, as worries about Italy and Spain came back to haunt the euro zone and earnings and economic data offered a less upbeat picture than in the United States.

U.S. funds invested in European equities snapped their longest net inflow streak since 2006 this week as they suffered net redemptions for the first time since October, Lipper data showed.

The FTSE 100 has been stuck in a 160-point range for three weeks as a result, having added 11.6 percent between the middle of November and the middle of January, although it has ground its way to a five-year high this week.

"The market is struggling to move on from the multi-year highs that we've seen more recently after the very strong rally we saw in 2012 and the start of 2013," Potts said.

Commodity-related stocks were also hit by an oil price headed for its first weekly loss in five weeks. The energy sector took 7 points off the overall index, enough to bring it into negative territory.

By 1128 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.24 points at 6,327.12, continuing to consolidate after touching five-year intraday highs on Wednesday of 6,384.

Strong technical support for the index remains, however, suggesting any correction in the FTSE 100 may only be short-lived.

"The FTSE 100 index remains in a strong up-trend. Support is at 6,175," said Dominic Hawker, technical analyst at Westhouse Securities. (Additional reporting by David Brett; editing by Patrick Graham)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130215/miners-top-movers-britains-ftse-stalls