Britain's FTSE 100 index <.FTSE> saw earlier gains evaporate and ended lower on Thursday after mining stocks including Xstrata and Rio Tinto tracked a steep fall in commodities prices and handed back some of the sector's striking gains.

Miners crowded the list of FTSE 100 fallers, with Xstrata, BHP Billiton and Kazakhmys all losing more than 3 percent.

Even Rio Tinto , which earlier said it churned out more industrial commodities from most of its mines and smelters in the first quarter, fell 3.7 percent.

Steelmaker Corus was the biggest FTSE 100 faller, with a loss of just under 4 percent.

There is some talk in the market about margin concerns and also there is a rumour that a Chinese minister has said something that has knocked the commodities market, said a dealer. And there's so much profit in the sector that when it is hit the move is savage.

No further information was immediately available.

The FTSE 100 share index <.FTSE> ended the session down 8.4 points at 6,081.4, falling back from an earlier five-year high at 6,113.4 points.

Aside from miners, the tone of the market remained buoyant.

Pretty much everyone has been overwhelmed by the way in which the market has steadfastly moved higher, said Mike Lenhoff, strategist at private client money manager Brewin Dolphin. But valuations are still satisfactory because the earnings are coming through.


Shares in directories firm Yell rose 3.3 percent, with dealers citing mounting expectations that it would win control of yellow pages company TPI , owned by Spanish telecoms company Telefonica , at a better-than-expected price.

Mergers and acquisitions talk also boosted the broader media sector, with mid-cap GCAP Media up 8.6 percent, dealers said.

Shares in long-mooted bid targets also rose, with mid-cap Associated British Ports advancing 4.5 percent, Kingfisher adding 1.6 percent, and BG Group rising 0.7 percent.

M&A speculation was kick-started in early trade by a report that Gazprom had told the European Union not to block its international ambitions, fuelling expectations Centrica , up 0.3 percent, could yet face a bid from the Russian state-controlled utility.

Elsewhere on the upside, shares in the world's third-largest record company EMI rose 8.3 percent after it said it expected annual profit to rise by around 12 percent after digital music sales soared.

But mid-cap retailer JJB Sports fell 2.8 percent after it revealed a slump in annual profits after a string of profit warnings amid fierce price competition.

(Additional reporting by Matt Falloon)