Markets: Weak Chinese exports dent FTSE

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MINERS dragged the Footsie lower yesterday after weak export data from China stoked fears of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Traders held their fire ahead of last night’s interest rate decision from the United States Federal Reserve and a speech by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, both of which came after the London market had closed. The FTSE 100 index closed down 8.12 points at 6,504.96.

Chris Beauchamp at IG Index said: “When faced with a Fed-related event, the most prudent course of action is to sit on one’s hands. Traders have followed this rule diligently.

“We are still in the midst of the healthy bounce that has allowed markets to recover plenty of lost ground, but it all now hangs on the outcome of the Fed minutes. Grudging acceptance is the best way to describe the market’s reaction to tapering, but if the minutes come out as hawkish then it could throw its toys out of the pram once again.”

Banking stocks dipped despite credit ratings agency Moody’s saying Britain’s lenders are now strong enough to survive another financial crisis.

Royal Bank of Scotland fell by 3.1p to 300.5p, Lloyds Banking Group was down 0.25p to 66.1p and Barclays dropped by 0.3p to close at 302.05p.

Luxury fashion label Burberry climbed 4.8 per cent or 69p to 1,510p after it hailed a “standout season” for sales.

Other retail stocks on the front foot included Tesco after analysts at Exane BNP Paribas said the supermarket group’s attempts to refresh its food offer were gathering pace.

BNP raised its target price, leading to a gain in Tesco shares of 5.9p to 349.5p, while Morrisons also benefited from an upgrade from the same brokerage as its shares lifted 4p to 282p.

NEW YORK: The Dow and the S&P 500 ended little changed last night as investors tried to gauge when the Federal Reserve may scale back on its economic stimulus.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 8.68 points, or 0.06 per cent, to end at 15,291.66 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index inched up 0.30 of a point, or 0.02 per cent, to finish at 1,652.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 16.50 points, or 0.47 per cent, to close at 3,520.76.