UK stocks opened broadly higher on Friday morning but a disappointing reading of Chinese manufacturing weighed on the mining sector, limiting gains for the resource-heavy FTSE 100 index.
The official Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell from 50.4 to 50.1 in February. While this marked the fifth straight month of expansion (shown by figures above the mid-point of 50), analysts were expecting a slight rise to 50.5.
HSBC's own PMI survey for Chinese manufacturing also fell from 52.3 to 50.4 in February, missing the 50.6 estimate.
Meanwhile, sequestration in the US is continuing to dominate headlines this morning as the deadline for across-the-board automatic budget cuts worth $85bn passes today. The International Monetary Fund has warned that it would be forced to trim is economic growth estimates if the cuts went ahead.
While the cuts would be gradual, it is thought that they will shave 0.5 percentage points off US gross domestic product growth this year.
Asian markets were slightly mixed overnight after a drop in consumer prices in Japan sparked speculation that the Bank of Japan (BoJ) would add to stimulus measures to combat deflation.
"With deflation so entrenched, expectations are high for the BoJ. Policymakers will need to make some bold decisions to revive the economy and see a return to inflation," said Financial Sales Trader Max Cohen from Spreadex.
FTSE 100: Miners tank after Chinese data; Lloyds disappoints
Mining stocks were providing a drag on the Footsie today in the wake of the disappointing economic figures from China. Kazakhmys, EVRAZ, Xstrata, Glencore, Rio Tinto and Polymetal were all firmly out of favour early on.
Kazkahmys, which yesterday announced that it would be slashing its dividend to reflect falling profits in 2012, was the heaviest faller after Bank of America, JPMorgan and Exane BNP Paribas all cut their target prices for the stock.
Meanwhile, Glencore and Xstrata were also hit after saying that they would likely push back their merger deadline as they continue to await regulatory approval in China.
UK banking group Lloyds was also lower after reporting while underlying profits soared in 2012, it was forced to take further provisions for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) redress in the fourth quarter.
Oil giant Tullow rose despite saying that it has had to suspend a well in Kenya after failing to bring hydrocarbons to the surface.
Advertising giant WPP topped market expectations with its results for 2012 but labelled its performance as "ugly" due to the varying levels of growth throughout the year. Shares edged higher early on.
Insurance group Old Mutual was in demand after posting an 18% increase in annual profits in 2012, driven by a strong performance in Africa.
Meanwhile, property developer Hammerson gained after hailing 2012 as a "transformational year" which saw 2.1% growth in like-for-like net rental income.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Capita (CPI) 842.00p +2.25%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,412.00p +2.19%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,502.00p +1.97%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,237.00p +1.89%
Experian (EXPN) 1,113.00p +1.74%
Hammerson (HMSO) 503.00p +1.74%
Old Mutual (OML) 205.90p +1.68%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 824.00p +1.42%
Compass Group (CPG) 810.50p +1.25%
Serco Group (SRP) 577.50p +1.23%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 582.00p -5.98%
Evraz (EVR) 261.90p -4.03%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 52.59p -3.45%
Polymetal International (POLY) 967.50p -3.15%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,130.50p -2.75%
Glencore International (GLEN) 377.85p -2.49%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 317.30p -2.04%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 331.70p -1.98%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,471.00p -1.98%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,157.00p -1.62%
FTSE 250 - Risers
William Hill (WMH) 429.80p +6.20%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 153.30p +3.51%
St James's Place (STJ) 502.00p +3.08%
BBA Aviation (BBA) 262.70p +2.90%
Homeserve (HSV) 241.50p +2.11%
Rotork (ROR) 2,908.00p +1.96%
Henderson Group (HGG) 161.90p +1.95%
EnQuest (ENQ) 135.40p +1.80%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 244.40p +1.79%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 77.80p +1.77%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 212.50p -6.68%
Playtech Ltd. (PTEC) 546.00p -4.46%
UBM (UBM) 741.50p -4.20%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 290.10p -3.88%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 254.70p -3.63%
Bumi (BUMI) 326.80p -2.77%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 126.80p -2.54%
Afren (AFR) 139.90p -1.62%
Lonmin (LMI) 351.30p -1.60%
National Express Group (NEX) 216.60p -1.55%