THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: Falling miners put FTSE on back foot

The London market retreated as miners gave up some of their recent gains following disappointing manufacturing data from China.

China’s official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 51 in December, offsetting better PMI figures from the rest of the world.

David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “The slip in Chinese manufacturing has dragged the mining sector into the red.

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“A slide in business activity combined with doubtful credit conditions has called China’s demand for minerals into question. Soaring manufacturing levels and sliding bond yields weren’t enough to save European equities from losing ground.”

The FTSE 100 Index was down 31.18 points at 6,717.91. Among the miners, Anglo American slipped 28p to 1,292p and Rio Tinto was 39.5p lighter at 3,370p.

However with gold prices staging a minor recovery, digger Randgold Resources topped the FTSE 100 risers’ board with a gain of almost 4 per cent, up 144p at 3,934p.

Sentiment towards the retailers improved as non-listed John Lewis and House of Fraser reported upbeat figures, offsetting the relatively poor performance reported recently by Debenhams. Sports Direct was up 4.5p at 719.5p and Next climbed 80p to 5,530p ahead of its own update on Christmas trading due Friday.

Debenhams was up almost 3 per cent at 75.15p despite the resignation of its finance chief.

On the Alternative Investment Market, shares in Croma, the security firm run by former members of the Black Watch, jumped by 11 per cent following the recent announcement that chief executive Roberto Fiorentino had increased his stake in the Dumfries-based outfit. The stock was up 2.75p at 28.25p, while Fiorentino’s holding is now 25.2 per cent.