* FTSE 100 down 0.2 percent
* Index in consolidation phase after strong run
* Miners fall after Chinese data
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index
was a touch lower at midday Monday, led by miners and banks, as
renewed concerns on economic growth in China helped cool
The FTSE 100 index was down 11.28 points, or 0.2
percent, at 5,876.13 by 1213 GMT, having traded around 30
percent of its 90-day volume average.
China, the world's second-biggest economy and top metals
consumer, published weak export data over the weekend and said
copper imports were surprisingly strong in February, damping
demand hopes and weighing on London's heavyweight mining shares.
The mining sector index was down 0.7 percent,
led by Vedanta Resources, down 3.6 percent.
"Equity markets are doing a lateral correction. There should
still be some upside into the second quarter, but the big move
is done," said Cheuvreux's head of economy and strategy,
"I guess we have got about another 5 percent left in Europe
before the current wave of equity advance is done. It is going
to be more tedious, with more frequent bouts of profit-taking.
In short, it is the phase of distribution."
Britain's blue-chip gauge has risen more than 5 percent in
the year to date, having recovered most of last year's losses.
Banks were down 0.9 percent, knocking 92 points
off the blue-chip index.
Denting sentiment on the sector was a report in the Daily
Telegraph suggesting that all of UK's major banks could face an
inquiry for allegedly mis-selling complex interest rate
They also fell prey to profit takers watching the technical
charts after failing to close above the 23.6 percent retracement
of the Feb. 21 to March 6 move at the end of a three day-run on
Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal
Bank of Scotland fell between 1 percent and 2.5 percent,
while HSBC was down 0.4 percent.
Hedge fund firm Man Group dipped 1.5 percent after
HSBC cut its rating and estimates on the group.
Cruise operator Carnival topped the blue-chip chart,
rising 2.5 percent as a Numis Securities upgrade helped lure
investors after a 16 percent stock price fall since the Costa
Concordia shipwreck in mid-January.
"Whilst demand is recovering slowly following the Costa
Concordia tragedy and fuel price increases remain a drag, we
believe the medium-term outlook for improved earnings and ROIC
(return on invested capital) is encouraging," Numis said.
Car and plane parts manufacturer GKN was one of the
most heavily traded stocks on the index as it fell 0.6 percent
on volume 51.7 percent of the daily average on speculation it
might need to raise additional funds in order to finance a
possible acquisition of Volvo's aircraft business.