* FTSE 100 down 0.1 pct
* Standard Chartered leads gainers
* Defensives weak on stimulus expectations
LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Britain's top shares edged away
from four-month highs in jittery trade on Thursday, with
investors shifting out of defensive stocks and into banks and
miners as prospects of fresh monetary stimulus from China
supported risk appetite.
Risk-averse sectors such as healthcare were the biggest drag
on the index, and by mid-session pharmaceuticals, telecoms and
utilities were also all down on the day.
At 1110 GMT the FTSE 100 was down 4.09 points or 0.1
percent, at 5,841.83, easing off an intraday four-month high of
5,860.16. Volume was thin at one fifth of the 90-day daily
"As we get more willingness for stimulus from China, as well
as from the euro zone, defensives will underperform," said Shore
Capital strategist Gerard Lane.
"The defensives had a relatively good second quarter as
people realised that economic growth is going to be downgraded
in the U.S. and elsewhere, so a lot of them ... moved from
attractive to unattractive valuation levels."
Banks, led by Standard Chartered, were
the session's best performing sector rising 0.7 percent and
adding 4 points to the index.
The under-pressure bank was up 3.8 percent, leading the
index and recovering more of its recent losses, as it continued
to fight back against U.S. regulatory charges that it abetted
$250 billion of money-laundering transactions with Iran.
"The view on Standard Chartered in the market far outweighs
the dramatic commentary from the Americans. Last week it
delivered good results, and the fact that they have quite
ferociously contested (the allegations) has also boosted
sentiment," said Galvan head of trading Ed Woolfitt.
Risk-sensitive miners gained after Chinese inflation fell to
a 30-month low on Wednesday, fuelling expectations of further
policy easing in the world's second-largest economy and biggest
raw materials consumer.
"Inflation came more or less in line so it opens up the door
for more stimulus," said Shore Capital's Lane.
But the fact that the rally in mining stock was modest
suggested investors were hedging their bets over when or whether
more stimulus would emerge from China.
Randgold Resources led the sector, rising 2.3
percent after positive second-quarter results as the West
Africa-focused miner said it produced more gold than expected.
(Reporting by Viktoria Dendrinou; Editing by John Stonestreet)