Mining stocks slid to the bottom of London’s FTSE 100 on Monday, after data from China showed the biggest decline in the country’s imports for eight months.
The renewed signs of a slowdown in the biggest destination market for the heavily-weighted sector’s metals led to sharp selling of its shares.
The two biggest fallers on the main London index were Anglo American, down 1.9 per cent at £12.44, and BHP Billiton, down 1.5 per cent to £14.51. Antofagasta lost 1 per cent to 724.5p, while Glencore fell 1 per cent to 313.4p and Rio Tinto lost 0.9 per cent to £28.75.
Overall, the FTSE 100 fell 0.4 per cent to 6,716.46, a loss of 26 points.
“The London index is managing to hold above the 6,700 level, but with relatively little news around in the coming hours that might help lift sentiment, it would be no real surprise if this rout is to continue,” said Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct.
“We’re not quite at the point of throwing in the towel for the year, but weak data from China will do little to help oil or base metal prices, and without some confidence here then the FTSE 100 is always going to struggle.”
J Sainsbury made the best single gain of the morning — up 1.8 per cent to 242.6p — after weekend press reports of bid interest in the UK supermarket group from Crystal Amber.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the activist fund was in talks with several overseas investors about forming a consortium to make an offer. Sainsbury has previously been at the centre of bid interest from Qatar, and supermarket groups shares have fallen this year after tough competition from discount food retailers.
Tullow Oil found support after its recent long run lower tracking the slide in crude prices. As bargain hunters moved back in for the stock, it made the best single gain on the FTSE 100 in initial trade, up 2.8 per cent at 407.2p.
There was a defensive feel to much of the rest of the leaderboard after economic data from Japan showed the country’s unexpected return to recession had taken it further into contraction territory than thought, adding to concern about the outlook for the global economy after the weak data from China.
That helped precious metal stocks. Randgold Resources rose 1.8 per cent to £42.66. Fresnillo, the world’s biggest silver miner, added 0.6 per cent to 724p.