Britain's top share index eased in mid-session trade on Wednesday, with weakness in energy and food retailers offsetting some strength in miners and banks, as investors await the start of the third-quarter corporate results season in the United States.

By 1104 GMT the FTSE 100 was down 19.88 points, or 0.4 percent at 5181.09, having closed 2.3 percent higher on Tuesday on growing confidence over the outlook for the global economy.

Energy stocks took the most points off the index, as profit takers cashed in on some of Tuesday's gains, with oil prices refusing to break higher ground.

Oils have set themselves up nicely for a bout of profit-taking because the underlying commodity hasn't been making too much progress (since hitting highs in August), said Stephen Pope, chief global market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.

BP (BP.L), BG Group (BG.L) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) fell 0.8 to 1.9 percent.

Food retailers dipped as J Sainsbury (SBRY.L), down 2.9 percent, released its second-quarter trading update, which met forecasts with a slight slowdown in quarterly sales growth.

Peers WM Morrison (MRW.L) eased 1 percent, while Tesco (TSCO.L), which posted its first-half results on Tuesday, shed 1.6 percent.

British Airways (BAY.L) shed 0.7 percent. The airline said it would cut the equivalent of 1,700 staff in the United Kingdom and was planning a two-year freeze on basic pay for cabin crew.

Kingfisher (KGF.L) rose 2.3 percent after UBS upgraded its recommendation on Europe's largest home improvement retailer to buy from neutral and Morgan Stanley upped its stance to equal-weight from underweight.

Admiral Group (ADML.L) and WPP Group (WPP.L) fell after trading ex-dividend.


Life insurers were on the advance. The sector has been been high on investors' wanted list recently due to M&A speculation.

Aviva (AV.L), Standard Life (SL.L), Prudential (PRU.L) and Friends Provident (FP.L) gained 1.2-2.6 percent

Banks were mixed with HSBC (HSBA.L) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) up 0.9 and 0.3 percent respectively

HSBC, Europe's largest bank, said it would be forced to delay raising its dividend if new capital rules were applied too heavily or quickly, the Times reported the bank's head of investment bank as saying.

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) dropped 0.1 and 0.8 percent each.

Intercontinental Hotels (IHG.L) added 3 percent, after Citigroup upgrades its rating to buy from hold.

With little in the way of economic data for investors to chew on, Alcoa's Q3 results were expected to get attention later in the day as the largest aluminium maker in the United States unofficially kicks off the third-quarter earnings season.

If there were any serious doubts about how good the earnings would be we wouldn't be seeing the markets make the gains they have over the last two days, said Pope.

Earlier a survey in the UK by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and accountancy firm KPMG showed the number of permanent job placements in Britain continued to grow in September and rose at their fastest pace in 18 months.

Mid-cap recruiter Michael Page (MPI.L), up 5.1 percent confirmed it was beginning to see signs of stabilisation as the company reported third-quarter results.