FTSE 100 drives toward lowest in nearly a month as miners dive

U.K. stocks have slumped Tuesday, steering toward their lowest in roughly four weeks, with commodity shares among those struggling.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index dropped 0.7% to 6,199.78, facing its lowest close since April 7. Trading was closed Monday for the bank holiday.

A loss Tuesday would be the index’s second in a row, with Friday’s action leaving the benchmark 1.3% lower.

At the start of the holiday-shortened week, mining shares occupied the bottom of the FTSE 100. The moves followed data showing a “persistent contraction in China’s manufacturing activity,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, market analyst at London Capital Group, in a note.

A private gauge of Chinese factory activity released early Tuesday fell to 49.4 in April from 49.7 in March. Miners are sensitive to developments from China, which is a major buyer of industrial and precious metals.

Shares of platinum and copper producer Anglo American PLC AAL tumbled 11%, Glencore PLC  lost 7.1%, iron ore heavyweight BHP Billiton PLC BLT gave up 4.8% and rival Rio Tinto PLC RIO moved down 5%.

London-listed stocks remained stuck in the red after a reading of U.K. manufacturing activity fell to the lowest since February 2013. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI declined to 49.2 in April, which is under the 50 mark that’s considered expansionary.

“Manufacturers are emphasizing slower domestic demand growth and declining new export orders as the key weaknesses they are facing, amid rising uncertainty about the global economy, the oil & gas industry, retail sector and the EU referendum,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.

“With this backdrop unlikely to change in the coming months, the second quarter is likely to remain a bleak landscape for industry.”

Among industrial shares, building materials suppliers CRH PLC shed 0.8% and equipment rental company Ashtead Group PLC moved 1.7% lower.

The pound GBPUSD eventually slid after the data, buying $1.4607 compared with $1.4761 ahead of the report.

Other movers: Major oil companies were hurt as oil prices CLM6 fell more than 1% ahead of weekly supply data. Royal Dutch Shell PLC fell 1.6% and BP PLC BP. gave up 1%.

Shares of HSBC HSBA switched lower, losing 1.9%. The banking heavyweight posted a rise as pretax profit that came in ahead of expectations but net profit fell 18.2%.

RSA Insurance PLC shares gained 2.9% following a ratings upgrade to overweight from equal weight by Barclays.

Source: MarketWatch