MONDAY MARKET CLOSE: Iraq fears weigh

Oil prices continue to creep higher due to unrest in Iraq. Picture: AFP/Getty
Oil prices continue to creep higher due to unrest in Iraq. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Better prospects for the Chinese economy failed to lift the FTSE 100 index today as growing turmoil in Iraq continued to hurt sentiment.

Mining stocks were sharply higher after new figures showed Chinese manufacturing expanded for the first time this year.

But the Footsie index still ended 24.64 points lower at 6,800.56 after militants captured new territory in the west of Iraq.

With oil prices continuing to creep higher on the conflict, airline stocks were back under pressure as International Airlines Group fell 5.5p to 379.1p and easyJet dropped 25.5p to 1426.5p.

Housebuilders were near the top of the fallers board on expectations that Bank of England governor Mark Carney will announce new rules this week to clamp down on large and risky mortgage loans.

Barratt Developments fell 11p to 349.6p and top flight rival Persimmon dropped 2 per cent or 23p to 1207p.

Other fallers included Royal Bank of Scotland, which dropped 7.2p to 330p, while Lloyds Banking Group was 1p lower at 75.7p.

Elsewhere, the latest figures from the world’s second largest economy lifted hopes that recent stimulus measures by the Beijing authorities were starting to help growth.

The potential boost to demand saw Rio Tinto rise 50.2p higher to 3127.7p, while BHP Billiton climbed 32.2p to 1933.75p.

Outside the top flight, shares in financial services group WH Ireland said it was encouraged by revenue growth in both its private client and corporate broking divisions.

It said it expects to make further progress in 2014, pushing its shares higher to close up 4.5p at 113.5p.