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Britain's FTSE 100 slips, struggles after recent 5-year highs

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* FTSE 100 down 0.2 points

* U.S. equity market closed for holidays

* Anglo American dips as banks revise down estimates

* Recent M&A pickup helps support some stocks

By David Brett

LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Britain's top shares edged lower on Monday, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index struggling to break through fresh five-year highs as investors temper their long-term bullishness with some short-term caution.

The FTSE 100 was down by 0.2 percent, or 13.90 points lower, at 6,316.73 points by 0852 GMT, in what is expected to be a quiet session with little macro economic and corporate data and with the U.S. equity market closed for the President's day holiday.

"With no news of note scheduled on the day's macro calendar, we may see stocks drift sideways today," said Matt Basi, senior sales trader at CMC Markets.

Analysts at Nomura warned in a note that sentiment towards global equity markets had become even more extended last week with its systematic mutual flow indicator, a gauge of what funds are buying, reaching levels not seen since May 2006.

"We would regard such extreme bullish levels of sentiment to act as a contrarian signal of equity market weakness over a short-term horizon," it wrote.

Early 2008 highs of 6,400 have proved a tough level for the market to breach this year. The FTSE 100 topped out at an intraday high of 6,384 on Feb. 13, but technical analysts said that the index could be priming itself for another attack soon.

"The ability to hold the uptrending support line near 6294.00 suggests that the index is poised for another move to the upside with 6400.00 the next likely target," James Hyerczyk, analyst at Autochartist, said.

On Monday, miners were the main drag after copper fell to a three-week low. Global miner Anglo American was among the top fallers, down 0.7 percent as investment banks began revising their earnings estimates for the company downwards following results on Friday.

Financials , which have led the recent rally on the back of falling macro tail risks, were also lower as investors banked some profits.

Those fading macro risks and improved liquidity conditions has seen a pickup in M&A activity.

Long rumoured as a potential takeover target, fund manager Man Group edged up 0.7 percent as investors switched from Ashmore, down 1 percent, after the head of the fund firm was summoned to answer questions over links with a tycoon in a corruption probe, according to press reports.

Free-to-air broadcaster ITV topped the short-list of FTSE 100 risers, climbing 2.6 percent with traders citing the uplift in recent M&A activity in the market in general helping boost the credentials of the perennially rumoured takeover target.

Elsewhere on the upside, Aggreko rallied 2.6 percent as investors turned on to the recently beat-up temporary power provider.

Deutsche Bank said it was positive on UK equities although it said it was getting tougher to position given how some stocks have performed. The investment bank targeted 6,575 on the FTSE 100 based on earnings (and dividend) growth of 7 percent and a fairly conservative forward multiple of just 11.4 times. (Editing by Hugh Lawson)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130218/britains-ftse-100-slips-struggles-after-recent-5-year-highs