LONDON: Britain’s top shares fell sharply on Thursday

LONDON: Britain’s top shares fell sharply on Thursday as weak Chinese economic data and worry the US Federal Reserve could soon taper its stimulus programme led to profit-taking on an index that was trading at 13-year highs. 
Mining stocks sank after HSBC’s preliminary survey of purchasing managers showed factory activity in China, the world’s top metals consumer, shrank for the first time in seven months in May. 
Also pressuring equities, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke appeared to contradict his prepared statement to Congress in a live question and answer session late on Wednesday by saying the central bank could scale back the pace of bond purchases at one of the next few meetings. 
The FTSE 100 was down 113.40 points, or 1.7 percent, at 6,726.87 by 0709 GMT. 
Many traders and investors, however, reckoned any pull-back on the FTSE 100 would be relatively short-lived before the index resumes a rally, which had seen it advance around 16 percent in 2013 until Wednesday’s close. 
“A fall-back would be healthy … Markets had just gotten ahead of themselves and were technically ready for a correction,” said Lex van Dam, hedge fund manager at Hampstead Capital, which manages around $500 million in assets.

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