FTSE slumps 2% over China fears


The FTSE 100 Index closed 108.8 points lower at 5867.9

Fears over plans to curb inflation in China have hit the FTSE 100 Index hard as it slumped nearly 2% on Thursday.

The London market closed 108.8 points lower at 5867.9 as speculation mounted over the likelihood of an interest rate hike in China.

China’s economy expanded 9.8% in the fourth quarter, while inflation in December moderated to 4.6% from November’s 28-month high, but analysts said it was still more than expected and likely to rise again.

This led to fears China will have to slow its economic growth, which could dent the country’s appetite for crude oil and other commodities.

Mining stocks suffered with silver miner Fresnillo dropping 84p to 1346p, copper firm Kazakhmys off 84p at 1538p and coal, copper and nickel giant Xstrata losing 74p at 1388.5p.

A positive report from the National Association of Realtors in the US, which showed home sales increasing more than expected last month, failed to offer further cheer but did see the dollar rise against the pound at 1.58. Sterling was also down against the euro at 1.18.

Energy stocks were also weak, as the price of crude oil fell, with BP down more than 2% or 11.95p at 494.1p and Tullow Oil off 53p at 1307p and Cairn Energy down 9.6p at 437p.

British Airways closed nearly 2% down on its last day of stock market trading before its merger with Spanish carrier Iberia. The merger will complete on Friday and shares in the new holding company, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), listed on stock markets in London and Madrid on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, More Than insurer RSA revealed its bill for UK weather-related claims was expected to be £110 million more than normal after the coldest December for 100 years. It said full-year earnings would be lower than market forecasts – at around £600m to £630m against predictions for at least £700m.

The biggest Footsie risers were National Grid up 8p at 539p, Barclays ahead 7.1p at 303.3p, Autonomy up 16p at 1424p, and Lloyds ahead 0.6p at 66.8p, while the biggest fallers were Invensys down 27.8p at 329.6p, Fresnillo off 84p at 1346p, African Barrick Gold down 29.5p at 518p and Kazakhmys off 84p at 1538p.

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