Oil and basic resource stocks took a step back again after a downbeat economic survey from China weighed on commodity prices.
Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC, said: “A disappointing HSBC China services report overnight preceded a reserve ratio cut by the People’s Bank of China.
“The 50 basis point cut has not been taken as a big change in policy, rather just an adjustment, leaving markets to take the PMI data at face value, namely an indication of a slowdown.”
The FTSE 100 recovered some ground late on to close 11.78 points lower at 6,860.02, despite the drag from the miners. BHP Billiton was down 2 per cent at 1,527p and Anglo American dropped 20p at 1,150p.
Among the drillers, Tullow Oil was the biggest top-flight faller, down 5 per cent at 395.9p, although it follows two days of significant gains. Royal Dutch Shell fell 23p to 2,245.5p while BP dipped 4.5p to 445.35p.
But the biggest blue chip casualty was fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown, which saw shares tumble more than 7 per cent after it reported a slight drop in half-year profits for the six months to 31 December.
Its performance is normally stronger in the second half of the financial year, and the pressure on the company to achieve a further boost to volumes over the coming months meant shares fell 79p to 966p.
Satellite broadcaster Sky rose by 12.5p to 955.5p after it reported the addition of 200,000 new customers in the UK and Ireland in the second quarter to the end of December.
Operating profits for the first half were 16 per cent higher at £675 million in the company’s first set of results since a deal to combine Sky, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.
Chief executive Jeremy Darroch said it was “in good shape” ahead of the Premier League rights auction this week.