BRITAIN’S top share index suffered its sharpest fall in two weeks yesterday, as concerns over materials demand in top consumer China hit commodities-linked sectors, marring a rally that had been part-driven by hopes for improving global growth.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed down 69.7 points, or 1.2 per cent, at 5,891.41, having rallied more than six per cent since the start of the year and after hitting an eight-month peak last week.

Miners, which account for a large part of the index, retreated 3.6 per cent after the world’s biggest, BHP Billiton, said it was seeing evidence of “flattening” iron ore demand from China.

Rivals Rio Tinto and BHP were among the steepest fallers, down 4.1 per cent and four per cent respectively in heavy volume.

But defensive food retailers were among the biggest gainers, with market leader Tesco up 0.5 per cent, while peers Morrisons and Sainsbury’s rose 0.6 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively.

Still on the risk-averse theme, Vodafone topped the leaderboard, rising two per cent in heavy volumes.