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THE LONDON REPORT

THE leading share index closed lower yesterday as falling commodity prices stung oil firms and miners while investors stayed cautious ahead of the conclusion of a US Federal Reserve policy meeting.<br /><br />The FTSE 100 ended 0.1 per cent, or 3.23 points, lower at 5,139.37, erasing gains from earlier in the session as shares on Wall Street fell and oil and metals prices retreated across the board.<br /><br />Oil majors took the most points off the index as crude prices fell more than $3 on data showing a large rise in US crude stocks. <strong>BG Group, BP, Royal Dutch Shell</strong> and <strong>Tullow Oil</strong> shed between 0.2 and 1.6 per cent.<br /><br />&ldquo;There is a bit of technical selling going on. The market has made three attempts to making new highs and each attempt has failed and it looks like the sell-off has followed through now,&rdquo; said Angus Campbell at Capital Spreads.<br /><br />&ldquo;As we come into the end of the third quarter the markets have made such good gains that there&rsquo;s bound to be a bit of profit taking at some stage,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Miners were in the doldrums as metals prices were in negative territory on demand worries. <strong>Antofagasta, Eurasian Natural Resources, Lonmin </strong>and <strong>BHP Billiton</strong> lost 1 to 2 per cent.<br /><br />Among other standout losers, <strong>Liberty International</strong> dropped 10 per cent after the UK&rsquo;s largest shopping mall owner launched a placing of 56.1m new shares. KBC Peel Hunt wrote in a note to clients that other UK real estate firms could follow suit.<br /><br /><strong>British Land, Hammerson</strong> and <strong>Land Securities,</strong> all cited as possible candidates for share placings in the KBC Peel Hunt note, fell 1.4 to 4.5 per cent.<br /><br />Meanwhile ex-dividend factors knocked 1.94 points off the index, with <strong>Aviva, Centrica, G4S</strong> and <strong>Petrofac</strong> all losing their dividend payout.<br /><br />Earlier in the session, minutes of the Bank of England&rsquo;s last Monetary Policy Committee meeting showed members voted unanimously to keep the volume of quantitative easing at the &pound;175bn agreed in August. <br /><br />Data showed British banks approved 81.4 per cent more home purchase loans in August than the same month a year ago but consumer credit and demand for re-mortgaging remained subdued, the British Bankers Association said.<br />