Top shares eased in early trade on Monday, dragged by weak mining stocks which tracked lower metal prices on concerns about China's stockpiles and diminished expectations for further stimulus measures for the U.S. economy.
At 9 a.m, the FTSE 100 <.FTSE> index was down 5.62 points, or 0.1 percent at 5,881.87. It gained 0.5 percent on Friday after better-than-expected U.S. February jobs data showed recovery in the world's largest economy was gaining momentum.
However, investors on Monday interpreted the jobs data as lowering the likelihood of more stimulus by the Federal Reserve, which meets later this week.
With the U.S. appearing to be the only shining light sustaining markets at the moment there is deep concern amongst investors that the recent rally may well have run out of steam, said Mike McCudden, Head of Derivatives at Interactive Investor.
Heavyweight miners <.FTNMX1770> were the worst performing blue chips. Chilean copper miner Antofagasta
China, the world's top metals consumer, said copper imports remained surprisingly strong in February, with inflows of the industrial metal up 17 percent from January -- double a year earlier, raising stockpile concerns and dampening demand hopes.
Commodities and mining giant Glencore
Integrated oils <.FTNMX0530> were also weak, led by Royal Dutch Shell
Banks <.FTNMX8350> also suffered as investors shunned risk-sensitive stocks. Part-state-owned RBS
Downgrades by Seymour Pierce analyst Bruce Packard on global heavyweight HSBC
Among other financials, Man Group
Elsewhere, engineering group GKN
Among the blue chip gainers, real estate stocks stood out, led by Hammerson
Oil services firm AMEC
No British macroeconomic data will be released on Monday. Little is due all week aside from January trade numbers on Tuesday, and the latest unemployment data on Wednesday.
Across the Atlantic, after Friday's above-forecast U.S. February nonfarm payrolls data, investors only have the February employment index on Monday, due at 2 p.m.
February's U.S. Federal budget will be released after the London close at 6 p.m.
(Editing by Sophie Walker)