London Report: Weak China figures prompt FTSE to fall to three-week low

BRITAIN’S top equity index fell to its lowest closing level since mid-February yesterday, dragged down by major mining stocks and telecoms group Vodafone.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed down by 0.4 per cent, or 23.22 points, at 6,689.45 points – marking its lowest closing level since it ended at 6,663.62 points on 14 February.

The FTSE also fell below its 50-day simple moving average level – often interpreted by some technical traders as a sign of further weakness to come in the near-term.

Major mining stocks such as Glencore Xstrata and Anglo American featured on the FTSE’s loserboard of worst-performing shares, hit by new signs of a possible economic slowdown in China – the world’s top metals consumer.

The FTSE 350 Mining Index fell 1.8 per cent after data over the weekend showed exports in China unexpectedly fell in February.

A 3.6 per cent fall at Vodafone also weighed on the FTSE. The company has had to raise its initial bid for Spanish cable group Ono.