Improved Chinese manufacturing doesn’t steady FTSE 100

The blue chip index fell beneath 5,800 this morning, despite signs from China that a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy was gathering pace.

Energy and engineering firms shouldered the brunt of the losses. Ophir Energy fell 5.68 per cent in early deals, while FTSE 250 oil and gas group Salamander dropped 5.37 per cent.

Newspaper publisher Mecom Group slid 5.36 per cent, and property group Savills was off by 3.34 per cent.

Engineering firm Weir Group fell 2.82 per cent in early deals. Last month it was under speculation that it could be the target of a takeover bid.

Fellow engineering firm Smiths Group slid 2.46 per cent.

Topping the FTSE All-Share leaderboard this morning was Home Retail Group, up 5.57 per cent as it announced it was to reposition the Argos brand and close down 75 of its stores.

Airline Flybe jumped four per cent, while insurer CPP Group continued its climb up the index, adding 3.82 per cent.

Property developer Grainger increased 3.5 per cent.

Following its profit warning earlier this month, engineering firm Renold rose three per cent in early deals.

Pub group Punch Taverns was up 2.18 per cent, despite announcing a sharp drop in full-year earnings this morning.

Banks had a mixed morning. HSBC fell 0.75 per cent, Barclays dropped 1.63 per cent, RBS slid 2.56 per cent and Lloyds Banking Group was off 2.31 per cent.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed down 0.67 per cent. In the US, the Dow Jones closed down 1.82 per cent.