Miners weighed down by copper price slip as quiet FTSE ends lower

BRITAIN’S blue chip shares fell yesterday in very light trade as uncertainty over the outlook for the global economy and the next moves by central banks prompted many investors to stick to the sidelines.

Miners were the standout fallers, off 2.2 per cent, weighed down by a drop in the copper price.

Global growth worries affected demand expectations for the metal, especially with official August PMI data from top metals consumer China, due on Saturday, expected to hit a nine-month low.

Commodities trader Glencore was the biggest laggard, sliding four per cent, having been the top FTSE 100 riser on Tuesday. Takeover target Xstrata shed 1.6 per cent.

A Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has opposed the terms of Glencore’s proposed $30bn takeover of the miner. Norway joins Qatar, whose own sovereign wealth fund investment arm demanded improved terms and threatened to vote against the deal. Both Glencore and Xstrata shares also traded without entitlement to their latest dividend payments yesterday.

The FTSE 100 ended down 32.18 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 5,743.53, after closing 0.02 per cent lower on Tuesday, in volume at just 66 per cent of the 90-day daily average.

“There’s a risk of a bit more downside slippage,” Lynnden Branigan, technical analyst at Barclays, said.

Investors will closely watch US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and other central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at the end of the week at an annual get-together that often hints at forthcoming monetary policy moves. European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi will not attend.