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FTSE falls as China slowdown fears rattle investors

FTSE falls as China slowdown fears rattle investors

The FTSE 100 has fallen into the red, joining a broad global stock market sell-off as disappointing data from China reignited fears of a slowdown in the world's fastest-growing major economy.

The UK blue-chip index fell 59 points, or 0.9%, to 6,819, joining other European markets in the red. The German DAX 30 was down 1.2% and the French CAC 40 fell 1%, after Asian markets fell overnight. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.6% and Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 2%.

The stock market falls came as data from China on industrial production and retail sales both disappointed.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said the weak retail sales data was a particular disappointment, coming after the country's 'Singles Day', it's equivalent to Black Friday.

'Having come off the back of what we were told was a record “Singles Day” in November one would have been forgiven for thinking that Chinese retail sales would have undergone a decent rebound last month,' he said.

'It would appear that nothing could have been further from the truth as retails sales fell to their lowest levels in over 15 years, dropping from 8.6% to 8.1%.'

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the data was worrying given the country's trade dispute with the US.

'There is some concern that the impact of the US/China trade war has yet to be properly felt, suggesting that China’s economic data could be in for more shocks in early 2019 unless the countries secure a permanent truce,' he said.

Mining stocks were among the hardest hit on the FTSE 100, on fears of a fall in demand from top metals consumer China.

Glencore (GLEN) fell 3.1% to 286p, Antofagasta (ANTO) dropped 2.9% to 771.8p and Evraz (EVRE) was down 2.8% at 469.6p.

Brexit fears meanwhile continued to weigh on stocks with exposure to the UK domestic economy, with Royal Mail (RMG) down 4.2% at 289p, Tesco (TSCO) dropping 3.1% to 192.6p and Marks and Spencer (MKS) falling 2.2% at 260p.

House builders were also hit. Taylor Wimpey (TW) fell 3.2% to 130.8p, Persimmon (PSN) was down 3.1% at £18.89 and Barratt Developments (BDEV) dropped 2.4% to 442p.

GVC (GVC) was one of the few stocks on the index to make sizeable gains, up 8.5% at 717.5p as analysts at Citi said next week's parliamentary vote on fixed-odds betting terminals could be a 'significant positive catalyst' for the stock.

Among 'small-cap' stocks, Low & Bonar (LWB) tumbled 10% to 17.8p as the construction firm flagged tough trading conditions in the fourth quarter.

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