By Kit Rees and Julien Ponthus
LONDON (Reuters) - The UK's top share index was knocked down of its highs on Wednesday and sustained its biggest loss in two months as oil majors and commodity-related stocks fell but well-received results made Marks & Spencer a bright spot.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index closed down 1.17 percent at 7,785.08 points. A surprise fall in British inflation pushed sterling to its lowest level against the dollar this year but failed to provide any tailwind to companies whose revenues are in foreign currencies.
"Signs of détente between the U.S. and China have decreased, reviving the great trade war fear, while the deterioration in Japanese and eurozone PMIs have sent chills down the spines of those hoping that the synchronized global expansion had further to run", said Chris Beauchamp, an analyst at IG.
Energy stocks took around 37 points off the index as shares in Royal Dutch Shell fell 3.3 percent and BP declined 1.9 percent.
Oil benchmarks fell after an unexpected build in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories and as traders weighed the possibility of an increase in OPEC crude output to cover any shortfalls in supply from Iran and Venezuela.
A rise in Brent Crude to $80 per barrel this year has been a big help for both oil majors, with BP still up more than 10 percent and Royal Dutch Shell up 6.8 percent year to date.
There were also big losses among miners such as Anglo American down 5 percent, Rio Tinto down 3.2 percent or Antofagasta down 2.7 percent.
Copper and other metals fell as U.S. President Donald Trump tempered optimism that a China-U.S. trade stand-off was at an end, knocking appetite for cyclical assets.
Marks & Spencer shone despite the risk-off mood and was the biggest gainer with a 5.2 percent rise after the retailer gave a full-year update.
While it reported a second straight decline in annual profit and saw like-for-like clothing and home sales fall in the fourth quarter, investors were positive that the retailer had kept its outlook and not cut its dividend.
Marks & Spencer is undertaking a program of store closures to help revitalize the business.
Ameet Patel, senior analyst for Northern Trust Capital Markets, said M&S's results were solid and highlighted the confident tone in the company's outlook commentary.
"There remains a considerable short base in (M&S) for the all the 'obvious' reasons to sell UK retail, which brings with it the potential for squeezes on lack of bad news or even shades of positive news," added Patel.
Shares in Barclays reversed early morning gains and closed down 1 percent after sources told Reuters it had no plans for a tie-up with rival banks.
M&A has been a prominent theme among UK stocks this year as the pound remains at subdued levels, with recent moves being CYBG's takeover bid for Virgin Money, Takeda's acquisition of Shire and Sainsbury's deal with Asda.
(Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Richard Balmforth)