By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's benchmark equity index failed to make much headway on Wednesday, as weaker bank and mining stocks pegged back the stock market.
Some traders added that lingering uncertainty over when the U.S. Federal Reserve may start to scale back economic stimulus measures would also weigh on equities this month, causing investors to trim equity holdings to cash in gains on the rally so far this year.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was flat at 6,523.64 points in early session trading.
Part-nationalised bank Royal Bank of Scotland was the worst-performing FTSE 100 stock as it fell by 1.8 percent after its finance director Nathan Bostock resigned to join rival Santander.
Major mining stocks such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were another major drag on the market after Australian peer Oz Minerals slumped after issuing a disappointing outlook for its flagship mine.
Securequity sales trader Jawaid Afsar said the broader FTSE 100 would not make much headway until the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting on December 17-18 is over, due to some speculation the Fed may start to taper its economic stimulus programme this month.
"The market is hesitant ahead of that meeting. Once that is out of the way, I see the market rallying back and we may re-test the May highs by the end of the year," he said.
Although the FTSE 100 remains up by around 11 percent since the start of 2013, it has failed to break above a 13-year peak of 6,875.62 points reached in late May this year.
IPR Capital director Steven Mayne said the fact that some investors would now be looking to sell equities in order to book profits on the rally this year, rather than buy up new positions, would peg back the market for rest of 2013.
"With the uncertainty in America, people are taking a little bit off the table to cash in some profits," said Mayne.(Editing by Hugh Lawson)