Commodity stocks boost London market

Commodity stocks boost London market

Stronger commodity stocks and a results-day boost for Royal Dutch Shell helped lift the London market today.

The FTSE 100 Index cheered 42.2 points to 5688.2 in a week of fluctuating fortunes driven by speculation over the scale of possible money supply boosting measures by the US Federal Reserve next month.

A steadier session for the dollar and better-than-expected profits from Shell meant investors were more focused on corporate prospects.

Shell shares rose 10.5p to 1963.5p after higher oil prices and a 5% rise in production meant profits lifted 18% to $3.5bn (€2.52bn) for the three months to September 30.

BP followed suit with a gain of 4.05p to 423.1p, while elsewhere in the resources sector Rio Tinto lifted 53.5p to 4106p and BHP Billiton added 30.5p to 2194p.

Other leading risers included mobile phone group Vodafone, which added 5.25p to 171.55p after third quarter figures posted by France Telecom showed improving mobile revenues trends.

The biggest fall of the session came from pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca, which dropped 108.5p to 3137p after analysts at Collins Stewart said third quarter figures were weak, with US trading particularly under pressure.

It was joined on the way down by Aggreko, even though the temporary power supplier lifted its full-year profits guidance. Shares have enjoyed a strong run in recent months and were down 61p to 1600p as investors took the opportunity to take profits.

In the FTSE 250 Index, Hovis-to-Mr Kipling firm Premier Foods posted one of the biggest falls of the session after it said sales were down by 4.2% to £606m (€694m) in the three months to the end of September, a period which it described as the most difficult since 2007. Shares fell 1.44p to 17.3p, a drop of 8%.

Outsourcing firm Mouchel saw its shares slump 28% – off 35.5p to 90.5p – after it scrapped its dividend and reported a sizeable full-year loss.

Mouchel, which develops infrastructure for councils and Government agencies, experienced a drop in demand after the change of Government in May, as departments reined in spending and postponed or scaled down projects.

On a brighter note, UK Coal shares were 1.25p higher at 34p after it said output from its three deep mines was up more than 40% on a year ago at 1.7 million tonnes in the third quarter.

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