FTSE weighed down by poor Chinese data - London Report

BRITAIN’S top share index yesterday fell for a second day, hit by weak economic data from the Eurozone and China and a profit warning from energy supplier Centrica.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index closed 0.3 per cent lower at 6,678.90 points, extending its retreat from an eightweek high reached on the previous day.

Centrica, Britain’s largest energy supplier, fell 1.6 per cent to 293.90p in brisk volume, after it cut its full-year earnings outlook on the back of a steep drop in energy demand due to mild weather and the extended outage of two nuclear power plants.

On the upside, the world’s largest autocatalyst maker Johnson Matthey rose six per cent to 3,341p, after posting a small increase in half-year profits thanks to strong sales, and lifting its profit forecast for the year.

British engineering and support services firm Babcock rose 5.9 per cent to 1,184p, after reaffirming its full-year profit outlook and raising its dividend following a 32 per cent rise in underlying first-half pre-tax profit.

Broadcaster ITV fell 1.4 per cent to 202p in late trade after Europe’s leading cable operator Liberty Global said it had no plans to bid for the British firm.

The industrial metals and mining indexes dropped 2.7 per cent and 2.2 per cent, respectively, after a private survey showed growth in China’s factory sector stalled in November. China is the world’s biggest metals consumer.

“It’s not surprising that the market is reacting to weak commodity prices and disappointing Chinese data,” said Henk Potts, director of global research at Barclays.

“China has been the key influence in commodity markets over the course of the past 15 to 20 years, but the country is slowly going through a transition, moving away from being a manufacturing powerhouse.Its influence on commodity markets is likely to diminish.”

Global miners were particularly hit hard. Rio Tinto fell 2.62 per cent to 2,865p, Anglo American slipped 2.23 per cent and BHP Billiton declined 2.62 per cent to 1,582.50p.

IT group Outsourcery has soared 46.34 per cent to 15p, after unveiling a deal with Microsoft.

The company, whose co-chief executive is Dragons’ Den star Piers Linney, said it was participating in the Microsoft cloud solution-provider programme to resell and bill Office 365.