The FTSE 100 share index fell on Thursday, accelerating its pullback from last week's highs, as signs of slowing economic momentum in China, the world's second largest economy, weighed on cyclical stocks.

At 1151 GMT, the FTSE 100 <.FTSE> index was down 52.48 points, or 0.9 percent, at 5,839.24, testing technical support at around 5,840, having traded 36 percent of its 90-day volume average.

The FTSE, which was up 4.8 percent year to date, hit an eight-month closing high of 5,965.58 on Friday but failed to break above a major resistance at 6,000 points.

It was about time indices had a rest, (which) coincides with profit taking in mining because of concerns over the Chinese situation, Angus Campbell, head of sales at London Capital Group, said.

Equities still present a good long-term opportunity and I think a possible retracement to 5,700 could be a good area to buy back into.

Mining stocks <.FTNMX1770> fell 3.3 percent, knocking 33 points off the index, after data showed industrial activity in China, the world's largest consumer of metals, shrank for a fifth straight month.

Industrial metals and construction material stocks also fell 1.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. <.FTNMX2350> <.FTNMX1750>

Further weighing on British miners was a sector downgrade to neutral from overweight by Citigroup, which flagged softening earnings momentum.

Mining in particular has seen earnings momentum trends turn negative, Citi said in a note. As fundamentals take more of a front seat in market performance we do not expect the sector to outperform, so we move to Neutral.

Around 78 percent of UK metals and mining companies that reported full-year results to date missed consensus estimates, Thomson Reuters StarMine data showed.

Gold miner Randgold was down 12.5 percent on volume over 4 times the average on worries over the impact of unrest in Mali, home to some two-thirds of the group's production and where renegade soldiers say they have seized power in a coup.

Retailers <.FTNMX5370 > also suffered, with Home Retail and Marks & Spencer , down 1.1 percent and 1 percent respectively, after data showed British retail sales fell more than expected in February.

UK retail sales suffered their biggest drop since May 2011 last month and were revised sharply downwards for January, dampening hopes for a consumer revival this year.

Outperforming was defensive United Utilities , which rose 1.6 percent after saying it was on track to report a good underlying performance for the full-year.

(Editing by Jane Merriman)