October 10, 2014 / 11:43 AM / 5 years ago

Britain's FTSE 100 touches 12-month low as growth fears gnaw

* FTSE drops 1.4 pct in fourth straight session of losses

* Decline in cyclicals led by commodity shares

* Ebola concerns again depress travel and leisure shares

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index slipped for a fourth straight session to its lowest since last October on Friday, with growing concerns over the outlook for global growth prompting investors to trim their exposure to more growth-sensitive stocks.

Cyclical sectors such as mining and energy took the most points off the FTSE 100 index, following a sharp decline in commodity prices, while travel and leisure shares, which are also relatively sensitive to economic conditions, came under further pressure on concerns about the spread of Ebola.

The UK mining index fell 2.7 percent and the oil and gas index was down 2.1 percent, tracking a more than 1 percent drop in industrial metals and with crude oil near a four-year low.

Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton Tullow Oil and Antofagasta fell between 2.7 and 4.6 percent.

“The economic cycle has stalled, European macroeconomic data is starting to slow and the U.S. is in a hold position as investors continue to digest the tightening cycle and what it means for future growth prospects,” H2O Markets’ chief market strategist, Mike Jarman, said.

“The recent sell-off is a ‘shaking of the tree’ as investors prepare for the year end and ready an eye for 2015. There is potentially another 2 percent decline in global markets before the next wave of buying comes in.”

The FTSE 100 index was down 1.4 percent to 6,344.07 points by 1103 GMT after hitting a low of 6,328.39.

Recent economic figures from Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, showed a plunge in exports and steep drops in industrial orders and output, the latest in a slew of weak data which prompted the IMF to downgrade global growth forecasts.

“There have been questions over the strength of the German economy for a long time, so this data makes for a convenient excuse to sell the FTSE. There is a bit of a herd mentality at the moment,” Trustnet Direct market analyst, Tony Cross, said.

Lingering concerns that the spread of Ebola could hurt air travel and tourism sent the UK Travel and Leisure index down 1.7 percent, with TUI Travel and Carnival falling 6 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.

However, some investors saw weaker stock prices as an opportunity to return to the market. Sanlam Securities head of execution trading, Mark Ward, said that his firm was a buyer at these levels.

“The markets are now starting to hit the bottom ... we might still see the FTSE 50 to 60 points lower, but it does feel like it is now the time to start picking up some cheap stocks,” he said. (Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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