Miners and banks dent FTSE

The FTSE 100 was dragged back by weaker mining stocks after minutes from the US Federal Reserve's March meeting revealed that it is not planning any more monetary stimulus.

Federal Reserve policymakers have backed away from the need to pump more money into the system as the US economy gradually improves, minutes of the central bank's meeting published yesterday showed.

Meanwhile Britain's services sector saw surprisingly strong business growth in March and struck an optimistic tone about the months ahead, providing a further sign that economic recovery is taking hold.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the services sector rose to 55.3 in March, its highest level since January and up from 53.8 in February, a survey showed on Wednesday.

Miners were the biggest drag on the blue chips as copper fell for a second day, pulling away from near two-month highs, as investors' confidence was sapped.

Russian steelmaker Evraz was the biggest faller, reversing some of its recent gains. The company's stock nudged down by 3.3 per cent.

Meanwhile miner Fresnillo was off by 2.4 per cent, BHP Billiton 1.3 per cent and Anglo American 1.2 per cent.

Other significant fallers included engineer Weir Group, 3.3 per cent, and publisher Pearson, 2.7 per cent. Pearson was dented after going ex-dividend and so losing its payout attraction.

In banking RBS was the worst performer, down 2.9 per cent. Lloyds was off by 1.2 per cent and Barclays 1.8 per cent.

On the upside on the index HSBC lifted by 0.9 per cent. Telecoms giant Vodafone crept up and in pharmaceuticals GlaxoSmithKline put on 0.6 per cent.

Also in that sector Shire lifted by 1.1 per cent, making it the FTSE 100's top riser.

In Asia the Nikkei closed down 2.2 per cent and the Hang Seng up 1.3 per cent.

Meanwhile house prices rose 2.2 per cent in March in the UK, confounding forecasts for a 0.3 percent dip, data from mortgage lender Halifax showed.

In major US corporate news Burger King said that it is planning to go public again.