Mining shares pull FTSE 100 lower

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(Close): The London market was dragged lower by mining shares following the release of weaker-than-expected trade figures from China.

China - the world's biggest consumer of raw materials - reported a fall in both exports and imports during March.

While shares in China rose on hopes of more government stimulus measures, UK-listed mining firms fell.

The FTSE 100 fell 25.47 points to 7,064.30, with BHP Billiton down 3.2% and Anglo American 2.3% lower.

Falling prices for commodities - especially iron ore - have led investors to become more pessimistic about the sector's prospects.

Citigroup downgraded its rating for the whole sector, adding that it faced a tough couple of years until excess capacity is removed.

The declines meant the FTSE was pulled lower from the record closing high it had set on Friday of 7,089.77.

Away from the mining sector, shares in the supermarket Tesco fell sharply, closing down 2.7%. The company is set to report results next week and a report in the Daily Telegraph last week, quoting analysts at Barclays, suggested it could face a £3bn bill for its failing supermarkets.

A broker downgrade from Bank of America Merrill Lynch hit shares in Barratt Developments, with the housebuilder down 1%.

But positive comments from both Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan gave insurance firm Aviva a lift. It was among the top performer in the index, rising 1.7%.

On the currency markets, the pound hit a fresh five-year low against the dollar, as sterling continued to suffer from the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the general election.

The pound dropped to $1.4567 at one point against the dollar, before recovering slightly to $1.4656.

However, against the euro, the pound rose 0.3% to €1.3847.