FTSE 100 shares dragged lower by disappointing China trade data


Top-flight shares were down today, dragged lower by disappointing China trade data, which knocked the market's heavyweight miners.

The FTSE 100 Index was down 58.7 points to 6295.2, following figures that showed Chinese imports fell by 18.8% to 130 billion US dollars (£86 billion) in October compared with a year ago.

Markets are also concerned that the US Federal Reserve is preparing to hike interest rates next month from its historic low of 0.25%.

Germany's DAX and France's Cac 40 were both 1% lower. In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Index fell almost 200 points in early trading.

The pound was up a cent against the US dollar at just over 1.51, after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said the UK economy would continue to grow at a "robust" rate of 2.4% this year. Sterling was also up a cent against the euro at just over 1.40.

Back in London, China's trade figures hit the mining sector with BHP Billiton down 22.6p to 952.4p, Glencore 6.2p lower to 109.7p, and Anglo American fell 9.4p to 516p.

Barclays was up almost 1% or 1.7p to 234.1p, after it named the chairman of insurer Standard Life as deputy chairman and the senior independent director on the UK bank's board.

Sir Gerry Grimstone will replace Sir Michael Rake on January 1, Barclays said in the latest change at the top of the bank.

Last month it confirmed former JP Morgan banker Jes Staley as its new chief executive, replacing Antony Jenkins, in a move which analysts said signalled a bid to return the lender to its previous investment banking glory days.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) was one of the biggest fallers in the top flight, down 134p to 2640p, after it squashed recent bid speculation about a sale of the business.

It said: "Following recent market speculation, the board of directors of IHG states that it is not considering a potential sale or merger of the company."

The hotel giant runs almost 5,000 hotels worldwide under brands including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.

Satellite communications business Inmarsat rose 9p to 1014p after it said it had won a contract from Singapore Airlines to provide high-speed data connections for passengers on the carrier's long-haul fleet.

Elsewhere, specialist insurer Hiscox said fewer natural disasters helped boost its business in the first nine months of the year.

The London-listed firm said its gross written premiums jumped 12.9% to £1.5 billion due to fewer storms, floods and hurricanes around the world.

The Bermuda-based firm, which ranges from international commercial underwriting to home insurance, also saw a strong performance from its US market and its Lloyd's of London business. However, shares slipped 4p to 985.5p.

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Aberdeen Asset Management up 6.3p at 353.9p, Inmarsat up 9p at 1014p, Barclays up 1.7p to 234.1p, and Travis Perkins up 14p to 1991p.

The biggest fallers were Glencore down 6.2p at 109.7p, IHG down 134p at 2640p, Intu Properties down 12.4p at 324.6p, and Centrica down 8.2p at 216.5p.