The UK's commodity-heavy benchmark index retreated early on Friday, led by early falls in heavyweight telecom Vodafone , halting a two-day rally as investors digest a mixed reading of China's overnight GDP.

At 0703 GMT, London's blue-chip index <.FTSE> was down 13.86 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,696.60, having gained 1.3 percent on Thursday after better China lending figures fuelled talk the world's biggest metals consumer would report strong economic growth numbers, boosting mining stocks.

The rumours about China GDP proved to have been entirely misinformed ... but (it) remains on the steady glide path towards a soft landing, Ian Williams, equtiy strategist at Peel Hunt, said.

The monthly data showed fixed investment slowing to +21% YoY but retail sales at +15% YoY and industrial output +12% YoY both picked up in March, hence a generally sanguine market reaction, he said.

Vodafone took most points off the index in early trade, down 0.8 percent.

(Written by David Brett)