FTSE 100 ends lower as miners drag; defence firms rally

By Shreyashi Sanyal, Rupali Chaudhary and Khushi Singh

(Reuters) -Britain’s commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index ended lower, dragged by a fall in shares of heavyweight miners on worries around weak demand from China, while gains in financials and defence firms limited declines.

The FTSE 100 index fell 0.1%, while the more domestically-focussed FTSE 250 midcap index slipped 0.4%.

The industrial metals and mining sector dipped 0.1%, tracking declining copper prices on the back of surplus inventory and poor demand prospects from top metals consumer China.

“The growth (from China) we all expected has just not been there. You take China out of the equation and global demand is a lot weaker,” said Stuart Cole, chief macro economist at Equiti Capital.

“So, the outlook for miners will be less certain going forward now.”

Limiting declines, however, lenders climbed 0.8%, led by a 1.2% rise in HSBC Holdings while the aerospace and defence sector gained 1.4%.

The defence sector has rallied to record highs in recent days, with analysts pointing to increased geopolitical uncertainty as one of the drivers.

The FTSE 100 snapped a three-week winning streak last week, as investors assessed a widely expected quarter percentage point rate hike from the Bank of England, data pointing to slowing business activity across Europe and a surprise U.S. credit rating cut.

Investors now await second-quarter UK GDP data later in the week, along with inflation readings from the U.S. and China.

Meanwhile, mortgage lender Halifax said British house prices fell in July for a fourth month and the slide looks set to extend into 2024, but the market showed some signs of resilience despite a rise in borrowing costs.

The real estate and real estate investment trust sectors shed 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively.

LSL Property Services tumbled 10.6% after an annual profit warning due to subdued activity in the British mortgage market.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal, Siddarth S, Rupali Chaudhary and Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Eileen Soreng and Mark Potter)