Fears that Chinese factory activity slowed for a fifth month running have weighed on the FTSE 100, causing the blue-chip index to fall in early trading.
The FTSE was down 20.39 points to 5,871.56 as of 0813 GMT after a weak HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) added to concerns of slowing global economic activity.
The flash PMI for March stands at 48.1 points, down from 49.6 in February and below the critical 50-point mark that indicates contracting activity. Domestic and export orders fell over the month, while employment is at its lowest level since March 2009.
Gold miner Randgold Resources led the FTSE’s biggest fallers at the start of the session, dropping 14.86% to 5,615p. It was also affected by last night’s military coup in Mali, where the firm has operations.
Engineering consultancy Amec fell 2.54% to 1,114p and real estate investment trust Capital Shopping Centres eased 1.78% to 345.6p. Fashion retailer Next was down 1.58% to 2,869p, while high street stalwart Marks & Spencer retreated 1.54% to 383.5p.
Recent FSTE 100 entrant Aberdeen Asset Management led the morning’s strongest gainers, followed by Associated British Foods, Vodafone, Bunzl and Tate & Lyle.