Picture: Shaun Curry

London - Britain's top share index edged lower down from its highest close in 2016 on Thursday, hit by a tumble in fashion firm Burberry after it reported falling sales and warned of tough trading conditions.

Burberry fell 7.1 percent, the top FTSE 100 faller, after it said a drop in tourist spending in continental Europe and weak demand in Hong Kong had depressed sales.

The group was also not optimistic for the current year, saying profit would come in towards the bottom of forecasts.

“Burberry has suffered of late due to its dependency on Hong Kong and China ... and it looks like the company's issues have no end in sight,” Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said in a note, adding that the firm was suffering from weakness in both retail and wholesale divisions.

The FTSE 100 fell 17.48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,345.41 points by 07h59 GMT, having posted its highest close of 2016 in the previous session.

Much of the index's recent strength has been due to strength in the mining sector, which pulled back on Thursday to be the biggest sectoral faller.

Miners dropped 1.5 percent, falling from a one-month high, as copper prices also eased off a recent peak.

Among outperformers, Johnson Matthey rose 2.7 percent, the top FTSE 100 riser, after Credit Suisse lifted its rating on the chemical company to “outperform”.

In the mid-caps, Debenhams, Britain's second-largest department store group, rose 3.3 percent after it said it was close to naming a new boss as it beat forecasts with an 5.5 percent rise in first-half profit, putting it on track to meet full-year expectations.

“Interim results came in better than our forecast,” analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald said in a note, saying that the stock was not expensive but adding that longer term concerns remained as it reiterated a “hold” rating on the stock.

“We remain concerned, that the department stores are capital intensive and need to be furbished to a higher standard to attract shoppers.”

Entertainment One rose 10 percent after a report that ITV was in talks to buy the Canadian broadcaster. Entertainment One said it had not received an approach, and ITV was broadly unchanged.

Hays rose 7.4 percent after the firm reported solid results, even as it said it expected cautious client sentiment ahead of a referendum on Britain's European Union membership.

Reuters