Picture: Shaun Curry

London - Britain's top equity index fell on Tuesday, weighed down by a drop in mining stocks following mixed Chinese economic data, although drinks group SABMiller surged on a new bid proposal from rival ABI.

Royal Mail shares also retreated by 4.7 percent after the British government sold off the remainder of its stake in the company.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which fell on Monday to end an eight-day winning run, declined by 0.9 percent to 6,313.90 points.

The FTSE 350 Mining Index, which jumped 19 percent last week to record its best weekly performance in nearly seven years, fell 2.8 percent after the data from China, which is the world's biggest consumer of metals.

China's exports fell less than expected in September, with monthly figures showing recovery, but a sharper fall in imports left economists divided over whether the country's ailing trade sector is showing signs of turning around.

The mixed picture impacted mining stocks such as Glencore , which fell 5.1 percent, and Anglo American, which retreated 4 percent.

“We had seen quite a sharp recovery in the miners but yet again, China has brought us back down to earth with those weak figures. People who had been buying the miners over the last week would now be tempted to sell and lock in some profits on them,” said Charles Hanover Investments' partner Dafydd Davies.

However, SAB rose 8.5 percent after accepting a takeover proposal from Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), the world's largest brewer, which set out a cash-and-share package currently worth about 69 billion pounds ($106 billion).

AB InBev said it was willing to pay 44 pounds in cash per SABMiller share, with a partial share alternative set at a discount and limited to 41 percent of SABMiller shares. SAB shares were slightly below that level at 39 pounds.

Traders said SAB shares were below ABI's headline offer price partly because of concerns that the proposed tie-up may face anti-trust issues.

The FTSE 100 is down by around 4 percent since the start of 2015, and about 10 percent below a record high of around 7,123 points reached in April.

Reuters