Heavyweight mining stocks were dented by concerns over slowing growth in China on Monday, though a string of upbeat corporate reports capped losses on the broader index, keeping it within sight of recent seven-month peaks.
China cut its official growth target for 2012 to an eight-year low of 7.5 percent. Although that was broadly in line with expectations, it reinforced the spectre of potentially weaker demand for resources from the Asian powerhouse, sending global metals prices lower.
Commodity stocks are down on the back of the Chinese downgrades, said Arthur Gordon, co-head of UK sales at Canaccord Genuity. But the rest of the market is in reasonably good shape. A couple of months ago with that type of Chinese data the market would have been significantly lower, whereas now they are using it as a buying opportunity.
The FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was down 37.83 points, or 0.6 percent, at 5,873.72 by 0912 GMT, outperforming a 0.9 percent drop on the pan-European FTSE Eurofirst 300 <.FTEU3>.
The FTSE 350 mining index fell 1.8 percent <.FTNMX1770>. Rio Tinto
Implied volatility <.VFTSE> on the benchmark London index edged up 0.2 percent on the day but remained at less than half the multi-year peak levels set in September 2011.
We believe that the market is being overly myopic and are happy to buy into weakness, said James Follows, head of equities at Vestra Wealth.
This is a structural growth story, and with this nation of 1.3 billion people looking capable of doubling its consumption of goods and services over the next decade, commodities such as iron ore and copper should continue to benefit.
One saving grace for the British index was a 2 percent rise in BP shares
Being outside the euro zone, Britain was also seen as slightly less affected by the ongoing uncertainty over Greek debt woes, with Athens due to close a bond exchange with private holders this week.
It has also benefited from a relatively strong results season. So far, only a quarter of FTSE 100 companies have missed the consensus forecast on full-year earnings compared with 58 percent of those in the Euro STOXX 50 <.STOXX50E>, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.
On Monday, upbeat results and earnings outlooks helped boost British testing firm Intertie
However, after trading within a relatively narrow range of 5,829 to a seven-month peak of 5,964 for the past month, the FTSE needs a sizeable fresh catalyst.
Diary events are crowded towards the end of the week, with the Bank of England and European Central Bank delivering interest rate decisions on Thursday and the keenly watched U.S. jobs data due on Friday.
Until we see a confirmed breakout, range should persist, though we note that we're seeing bearish divergence in the short-term indicators, and we'd favour a downside breakout, analysts at Sucden Financial said in a note, adding that any such correction could take the FTSE down 2.5 percent to 5,760.
(Reporting By Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Will Waterman)