FTSE pegged back by weak resources

Resource stocks dragged the FTSE 100 backwards in early trading as fears over global growth continued to cast a shadow over markets.

Higher oil prices triggered by the West's tussle with Iran also added to the uncertainty and investor sentiment was weak.

London's blue chip index tracked losses on Wall Street and in Asia with a slowdown in resource hungry China's growth taking its toll.

Mixed economic data in Europe and the United States also put the brakes on recent market gains.

London copper prices fell further in Asian trade, down 0.7 per cent as China's slowdown sunk in.

Oil was the only market bucking the downward trend, up 0.1 per cent as worries grew about the risk of supply disruptions amid rising tension over Iran's dispute with the West on Tehran's nuclear program.

European shares were also hit by confusion surrounding a bond swap deal in Greece.

The biggest faller in London was miner Polymetal which dropped by around six per cent as gold prices have come under pressure. Meanwhile UBS downgraded the stock.

Also in the sector Eurasian was off by 2.3 per cent, Kazakhmys 2.1 per cent, Anglo American 0.6 per cent and Rio Tinto 0.7 per cent.

Essar Energy and Cain Energy - both seen as likely candidates to leave the FTSE 100 in this week's reshuffle - were each down around 1.7 per cent

Other fallers were insurers Aviva, 3.1 per cent, and Prudential 2.3 per cent.

Meanwhile engineer GKN was off by 2.4 per cent.

In banking Lloyds nudged down by 1.5 per cent, Barclays 1.2 per cent and RBS 1.1 per cent.

On the upside pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Astrazeneca were up 0.8 and 0.7 per cent respectively.

But the highest climber, bucking the trend in the resources sector, was miner Fresnillo which lifted by three per cent. The rise came as it reported a rise in 2011 profits thanks to higher silver prices.

Broker Hargreaves Lansdown was the second highest riser, up 1.9 per cent.

Meanwhile British aircraft parts supplier Meggitt posted a forecast beating 26 per cent rise in full-year profit, helped by growing demand for commercial aircraft. However its price dipped on the FTSE 100.

In Asia the Nikkei closed down 0.6 per cent and the Hand Seng 2.1 per cent.