LONDON (Reuters) - A drop in major mining stocks dragged down Britain's blue-chip equity index on Friday, frustrating the market's attempts to break new ground and hit record highs.
The FTSE 100 index .FTSE closed down by 0.4 percent, or 26.78 points, at 6,844.51 points.
Earlier this month it hit 6,894.88 points, its highest level since December 1999.
Mining stocks such as Anglo American AAL.L and Rio Tinto RIO.L dominated the FTSE's loserboard and took the most points off the index after new concerns surfaced about China's economy.
China is the world's biggest metals consumer and mining stocks are particularly sensitive to the state of its economy.
Beaufort Securities sales trader Basil Petrides said weak iron ore prices .IO62-CNI=SI - currently on a record losing streak - would also weigh on the mining sector.
"I'm a seller of the miners on rallies. There's a huge global glut of iron ore in the market," said Petrides.
The FTSE 100 remains up by around 2 percent since the start of 2014 and edged up 0.4 percent over the last week, but has so far failed to breach the 6,900 point level.
While many traders expect the index to get past this level and hit 7,000 points, for a record high, later this year, they see the market flatlining in the near term due to its failure to break new ground and advance beyond 6,900 points.
"A recent slowdown in trade direction has created a choppy sideways market, and the FTSE seems to be losing momentum," said JNF Capital trader Rick Jones.
Additional reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Catherine Evans and Susan Fenton