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Weak mining stocks knock FTSE off one-month highs

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON (Reuters) - Weak mining stocks knocked the FTSE 100 off one-month highs on Friday, and traders also trimmed equities on the prospect of smaller stimulus boosts from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed down 0.1 percent, or 5.18 points, at 6,583.80 points.

Miners dominated the FTSE's loserboard as the price of gold fell to a five-week low, with the FTSE 350 Mining Index declining by 1.6 percent.

Equity markets were also under pressure from expectations that the Federal Reserve will start next week to scale back a bond-buying programme that has pumped out cheap money, financing much of this year's global equity rally.

That prospect has led many traders to unload equity positions, cashing in on gains made so far this year. The FTSE 100 is up 12 percent since the start of 2013.

"We're looking to follow the trend and take our chips off the table," said MB Capital trading director Marcus Bullus.

Others felt concerns about the impact on equity markets of the Fed tapering off its bond-buying programme were overdone.

"There's a lot of noise around about the Fed, but if they're considering ... tapering, then it should give you confidence that they think the economy is strong enough to withstand that," said Chris White, head of UK equities at Premier Asset Management.

White preferred media and financial stocks, which tend to outperform when the economic cycle strengthens. Data on Friday showed construction output accelerated in July, adding to a strengthening economic picture.

"You want to be moving a bit more in the direction of cyclicals than defensives," said White.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)