Traders are snapping up haven-style assets as data released overnight increased uncertainty over the health of economies in China and Japan.
Gold miners and pharmaceutical stocks lead the way in the FTSE 100, which trades 0.3% lower at 6,099, as markets around the world start the week in the red.
Overnight, Japan’s Business Survey Index slipped to minus 11.1 in April-June, down from minus 7.9 in January to March, and data from China was mixed with fixed asset investment and retail spending down but factory output growth steady.
All major indices traded lower overnight. China’s currency sank close to five-year lows against the dollar and stocks on the mainland slumped 3.2% in their first trading session since Wednesday last week.
Investors are also sweating on Britain's upcoming 23 June referendum on Europe. Surveys show increased momentum for a 'Leave' vote and sterling weakened around 1.5 cents to $1.418 against the dollar since stock markets closed on Friday.
Gains on precious metals help gold miner Randgold Resources (RRS) lead London’s blue chip index, up 1.5% to £67.25, and pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is not far behind, up 1.2% at £14.29.
Elsewhere, unloved discounter Poundland (PLND) cheapens 5.3% to 160.75p ahead of Thursday's full-year results, where the pound shops chain is expected to report continuing weak sales trends into the first quarter. Broker Jefferies has an 'underperform' rating and 135p price target for the stock.
Health tracker manufacturer Fitbug (FITB:AIM) crashes 30% to 0.5p after its pre-tax loss widens from £3.8 million to £6.3 million in 2015, with revenues almost halving from £2.3 million to £1.3 million. The company has implemented a turnaround strategy focusing on the business-to-business market after its direct consumer retail focus 'failed to deliver the commercial results anticipated'.
Strong results also drive an 18% share price rally at Water Intelligence (WATR:AIM) to 70p. The company posts full year pre-tax profit at $0.97 million, up from $0.59 million a year earlier, while also flagging a very positive start to 2016.
Futura Medical (FUM:AIM) advances 4.2% to 18.7p on TTK Protective Devices agreeing a deal for its erection-maintaining condom to be sold in India. Futura receives an undisclosed upfront payment and royalties from the deal, which will see the first condom sold in the country during the opening three months of 2017.