Britain's FTSE Lower As China Pharma Scandal Widens

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Britain's FTSE 100 edged lower on Monday, retreating further from 7 week highs, led lower by pharmaceutical stocks after a bribery scandal engulfing the sector in China deepened.

* FTSE 100 falls 0.2 percent

* Glaxo says execs broke law, AstraZeneca investigated

* Support for index seen at 6,600

* Precious metals miners benefit from gold rise, JPM note

Britain's FTSE 100 edged lower on Monday, retreating further from 7 week highs, led lower by pharmaceutical stocks after a bribery scandal engulfing the sector in China deepened.

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, one of the biggest companies in the FTSE 100, fell 1.2 percent after saying that some of its executives in China appeared to have broken the law.

Peer AstraZeneca erased early gains to trade 0.3 percent lower after it revealed that Chinese authorities had investigated its Shanghai office, the third foreign firm to be implicated in the case after GSK and Belgium's UCB.

Pharma stocks fell 0.9 percent, the top sectoral faller, though they remain up 21 percent for the year.

"Pharmaceuticals have had a really good run this year, and I think if this is found to be the result of a few rogue individuals, this could just be a correction in the price which is actually quite healthy," Zeg Choudhry, head of trading at Northland Capital Partners, said, noting that the falls occurred in thin volumes.

"However, if it broadens into a deeper regulatory scandal, then there could be more downisde from here."

Health care stocks took 4.7 points off the blue-chip index, which was down 11.47 points, or 0.2 percent at 6,618.67 points by 1038 GMT at which time only a fifth of the 90-day average volume had been traded.

The FTSE has been on the back foot after stumbling against technical resistance around its late May peaks near 6,657 points at the end of last week, though technical charts still suggest scope for further gains.

"The FTSE is understandably struggling in this data-void session, though the trend is still firmly bullish. I think it is a matter of time before we see fresh highs for the year," Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at GFT Markets, said, saying he was looking for support around the 6,600 level.

Also providing support to the index were miners, led up by precious metal specialists, cheered by a recovery in gold to one-month highs.

The sector has shed a fifth of its value so far this year in tandem with a similar slump in the bullion price .

Fresnillo and Randgold Resources led the gainers, up 3.4 and 2.4 percent respectively, after JP Morgan deemed them - along with mid-cap Polymetal - as the best able to weather weaker metal prices.

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