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LONDON MARKETS : U.K. Stocks Start 2018 On The Back Foot As Mining Rally Stalls

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01/02/2018 | 10:16am CEST

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

Pound continues to climb, topping $1.3550

U.K. stocks slipped from record highs on Tuesday, as a recent mining rally cooled even after better-than-expected manufacturing data from China.

What are markets doing: The FTSE 100 index fell 0.2% to 7,676.97, easing back from the all-time closing high scored on Friday , the last trading session of 2017. The London benchmark logged a 7.6% gain for the full year, for its second straight year of advances.

The pound rose to $1.3555, up from $1.3502 late Monday in New York, largely due to broad-based dollar weakness.

What's driving the market: Mining companies are taking a breather on Tuesday after last week's rally. Those gains came after copper prices extended their winning streak into a 16th straight session.

Shares of miners lost ground even after upbeat Chinese factory activity data out on Tuesday that showed the manufacturing sector's expansion in December was stronger than expected. The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 51.5 in December from 50.8 in November , beating forecasts of a 50.7 reading.

The U.K. manufacturing PMI is due at 9:30 a.m. London time, or 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The U.K. market was further squeezed by the stronger pound. As around 75% of revenues for the FTSE 100 are made overseas, an appreciation in sterling hits profits when converted back into the U.K. currency.

Stock movers: Among miners, shares of Rio Tinto PLC (>> Rio Tinto plc) (>> Rio Tinto plc) (>> Rio Tinto plc) dropped 1.9%, Antofagasta PLC (>> Antofagasta) fell 1.6%, and BHP Billiton PLC (>> BHP Billiton Plc) (>> BHP Billiton Limited) (>> BHP Billiton Limited) lost 1.4%.

Shares of Compass Group PLC (>> Compass Group plc) gave up 0.7% after news the contract caterer's chief executive, Richard Cousins, had died in a plane crash in Australia.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (>> International Consolidated Airlines Group) added 0.4%. The British Airways parent said late Friday it is buying the assets of Austrian carrier Niki, an arm of defunct Air Berlin.

Marks & Spencer Group PLC (>> Marks & Spencer Group) moved up 0.6% after the store chain said it has sold its retail business in Hong Kong and Macau to franchise partner Al-Futtaim Group for an undisclosed sum.

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