London-listed mining stocks stumbled today after weaker than expected trade data from China overnight.
Chinese imports and exports both fell well short of forecasts last month. Exports grew 7.2 per cent year-on-year in July compared with expectations of an 11 per cent increase, while imports rose 11 per cent to miss forecasts of 16.6 per cent growth.
Although growth in overall trade was still healthy at 8.8 per cent, it was China's slowest this year.
"Mining stocks have handed back some of Monday’s gains after mildly disappointing economic data overnight from China," said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB Online Trading.
"The latest trade figures from the far east showed a decent rise in both imports and exports but they were both below consensus forecasts. Furthermore the export data is still below the levels seen in 2015 and shows that whilst the world’s second largest economy is still performing relatively well, it is doing so in the more in the context of last year’s slump rather than the prior years of strong growth."
Some miners dipped more than one per cent lower on the news because of China's position as the top commodity buyer. At the market close, Rio Tinto's stock was down 0.33 per cent to 3,625p, Randgold Resources was 0.69 per cent lower at 7,180p and Fresnillo was down 0.34 per cent at 1,472p.
Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore recovered to close in the green after falling earlier in the day.
"China has been a major buyer of minerals in recent years and today’s numbers show a slight softening for demand," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Mining stocks had been on the rise in the past couple of weeks after data last month showed the Chinese economy grew faster than analysts were expecting in the second quarter of 2017.
Chinese output remained at an annual rate of 6.9 per cent growth in the second quarter, in line with the previous quarter and slightly better than consensus forecasts.
In 2015, miners' shares dropped as the industry was hit by a commodities rout, but shares have recovered over the past two years in line with commodity prices.