The FTSE 100 was pegged back by miners in early trading as the index lost some of the momentum built up over recent weeks.
Nagging doubts over the rate of growth that can be sustained in China continued to cast a shadow over the sector and the price of copper fell.
Steelmaker Evraz warned over tough markets in its results today, which also served to sap investor confidence.
Investors were also digesting UK GDP data in which growth was revised down to a contraction of 0.3 per cent for the last three months of 2011.
The first two estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a contraction of 0.2 per cent.
Companies going ex-dividend knocked five points of the index with these mainly among insurers.
Insurers as well as miners led the market fallers with RSA off by five per cent and Prudential three per cent.
The sector was also pulled back by Lloyds of London reporting a £516m loss for 2011, triggered by disaster payouts.
That represents the second highest loss in its history.
Anglo American was the biggest faller in mining, down more than two per cent. BHP Billiton edged down as did Kazakhmys.
Evraz was off by more than one per cent after saying that it had missed its 2011 earnings targets.
In financial services interdealer broker Icap dipped by just over one per cent despite reporting forecast beating results.
Meanwhile in banking Lloyds, Barclays and RBS were all down by around one per cent.
There were few significant gainers on the blue chip index with Scottish and Southern Energy, up 1.1 per cent, the highest riser.
Publisher Reed Elsevier and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline also nudged up.
On the FTSE All-Share Thomas Cook put on four per cent after the struggling tour operator said that bookings were bouncing back.
In Asia the Nikkei and the Hang Seng closed down 0.7 per cent while European shares were weighed down by fears of Spain's finances as the country tries to get back on track with a tough budget.
Across the Atlantic