FTSE edges forward

The FTSE 100 Index edged forward today despite further trouble for mining stocks amid falling commodity prices.

On a day of few corporate announcements and with key inflation and GDP updates expected this week, London’s top flight of shares ticked 6.8 points higher to 5770.9 thanks to gains from the banking sector.

But miners stopped any real progress as investors pocketed gains made in a recent strong run which saw the sector outperform much of the rest of the market last year.

Lloyds TSB was among the biggest risers as it continued its march upwards to stand 6.5p higher at 555.5p amid continued speculation that it may attract a bid from overseas.

Other banks were also in positive territory, with Barclays up 5p to 647p and HBOS 5.5p ahead at 1002p, although Royal Bank of Scotland lost a penny to 1765p.

Yellow Pages firm Yell Group topped the blue chip risers board as it built on gains following good results last week and broker upgrades. Shares were up 17.5p to 567.25p.

And supermarket giant Tesco was 4p higher to 322p as investors digested news of its planned expansion to the United States.

But further falls by miners weighed heavily on the market and prevented any real progress

Shares in Antofagasta fell 2% or 32p to 1958 and joined on the way down by BHP Billiton – off 21.5p to 934.5p – Rio Tinto – down 36p to 2714p – and Xstrata - 26p lower at 1590p.

Airports operator BAA lost early gains to fall 1.5p to 777.5p as investors took flight following a massive rise last week on the back of bid speculation. Reports yesterday said BAA’s top shareholders would give their backing to a bid from Spain’s Ferrovial of 900p a share.

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