Britain's top share index was flat early on Wednesday as investors paused for breath after the previous session's sharp rise, with gains in miners offsetting weak energy stocks and ahead of the U.S. third-quarter earnings season.

By 0807 GMT, the FTSE 100 .FTSE was up 0.74 points at 5,138.72, having closed 2.3 percent higher on Tuesday on growing confidence over the outlook for the global economy.

Certainly in terms of the heady couple of days we've just come out of it does seem we're having a slight pause for breath today, said Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.

We are now slowly walking into the third-quarter reporting season -- next week in particular will get busy in the U.S. -- and that's the crossroads we find ourselves at, he said.

Energy stocks took the most points off the index, as profit takers cashed in some of Tuesday's gains, though oil prices rose for a third day, topping $71 a barrel.

BP (BP.L), BG Group (BG.L) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) fell 0.9 to 1.5 percent.

Weakness was also seen among banks after the previous session's rally, with Barclays (BARC.L), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) down 0.1 to 0.8 percent.

Heavyweight HSBC (HSBA.L), however, put on 0.9 percent.

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.

Food retailers were lower as J Sainsbury (SBRY.L) released its second-quarter trading update.

Britain's third-biggest supermarket group met forecasts with a slight slowdown in quarterly sales growth and said industry growth will moderate further as food price inflation eases.

Peer WM Morrison (MRW.L) dropped 1 percent while Tesco (TSCO.L), which posted its first-half results on Tuesday, shed 0.9 percent.

Kingfisher (KGF.L) was among the top blue-chip risers, up 3.3 percent after UBS upgraded its recommendation on Europe's largest home improvement retailer to buy from neutral.

Morgan Stanley also upped its stance on the stock, to equal-weight from underweight.

It has strong margin momentum, operational focus and cash flow, analysts at UBS said in a note.

Kingfisher was among FTSE 100 stocks trading ex-dividend on Wednesday, alongside Admiral Group (ADML.L) and WPP Group (WPP.L), with the three knocking 0.66 points off the blue-chip index.

British Airways (BAY.L) shed 0.6 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. [ID:nL668254]


Miners built on gains made the previous session against a backdrop of broadly higher metals prices.

Anglo American (AAL.L), Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC.L), Kazakhmys (KAZ.L) and Rio Tinto (RIO.L) rose 0.6 to 0.9 percent.

Gold eased from record highs on Wednesday as investors took profits, but sentiment remained bullish and a fresh record was within sight as the dollar's weakness and inflation concerns reinforced bullion's appeal as a hedge.

Randgold Resources (RRS.L) put on 0.5 percent.

There were signs of domestic economic recovery as British consumer morale rose to its highest in 17 months in September, with the Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index rising to 71 from an upwardly revised 65 in August.

And permanent job placements in Britain continued to grow in September and rose at their fastest pace in 18 months, a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and accountany firm KPMG showed.