A trader monitors the screen on a trading floor in London.

London - Britain's top shares crept lower on Monday, consolidating after a strong recent run, though with engineering group Weir notching up good gains in brisk trade after an upgrade from Citi.

Weir rose 2.5 percent, to be top gainer by some margin on the FTSE 100, as Citi lifted its rating on the stock to “buy” from “neutral”, calling its oil and gas opportunity underappreciated, and saying it could be attractive to potential acquirers given its strong market positions.

Weir had already traded a third of its 90-day daily average after about an hour's trade, against the UK benchmark on just 6 percent.

Its share price gains helped limit losses on the FTSE 100 which, after posting its best weekly gain since early May with a 1.6 percent rise last week, had slipped 0.2 percent to 6,853.28 points by 10:25 SA time.

Traders and technical analysts, however, reckoned the slight market pull-back would prove short-lived.

“We had a good week last week - it's understandable that people are taking a little bit of money off the table, but the underlying market seems to be relatively robust... We're still seeing buyers come into the market, albeit in a small way given that we're in that summer period,” TJM Partners' head of trading Manoj Ladwa.

Charles Stanley technical analyst Bill McNamara noted that while the index has been struggling to break above 6,900 since the start of the year, it is still displaying strong upside momentum.

“The broader technical picture is suggesting that a test of the 1999 all-time (closing) high, at 6,930, might not be too far away now,” he said.

Among mid-caps, Taylor Wimpey, which published the first of a number of updates due from the sector this week, saw its shares dip 1.5 percent as it succumbed to profit-taking after a good run up, with the company saying it performed strongly in the first half.

The sector has been volatile in recent weeks, having sold off in mid-June on prospects of a UK rate hike, only to recover towards the end of the month when the Bank of England's curbs on house prices proved less draconian than had been feared.

Analysts reckoned housebuilders, among last year's best performers, had further to run.

“I think that's a sector where probably the negativity on rates was overdone a bit actually - the fundamental news is very supportive... for the moment the house view is definitely overweight,” Peel Hunt equity strategist Ian Williams said. - Reuters