FTSE up more than 30 points

Gains in the mining sector helped the London market pull out of its losing streak today but economic worries continued to shake confidence in financial stocks.

Investor fears over the future for debt-laden countries like Greece and Portugal have kept sentiment in the doldrums in recent sessions and today saw a fresh wave of turbulence in the insurance and banking sectors.

The FTSE 100 Index finished the day up 31.4 points at 5092.3, after suffering steep falls in the session, dropping to just 33 points above the psychologically important 5000 level at one point.

In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average was broadly flat.

The rollercoaster session saw the Footsie climb nearly 70 points in morning business, but the optimism faded amid persistent economic worries.

The drop in sentiment caused by the European debt fears also hurt the pound as investors cut their exposure to risky assets, including those denominated in sterling.

The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since last May, at $1.56. It was also down to €1.14, meaning €1 was worth 87p.

Miners led the gains as the sector's major players get set to report this week.

James Hughes, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: "In the short to medium term the mining firms should see a continued strong performance as commodities remain strong.

"However more hints of rate hikes and withdrawal of stimulus plans will add more upside to the US dollar and see equities and commodities take a tumble."

Xstrata resuming its momentum late in the session to end the day nearly 4% higher after it reinstated dividends and offered encouragement over commodities demand. Shares added 33.8p to 983.8p.

Randgold Resources led the Footsie gainers, rising 271p to 4480p after it hiked its dividend by 30% and announced a sharp rise in fourth quarter profits.

But the market jitters meant Aviva lost nearly 3% or 9.4p to 355.7p, while Legal & General slipped 2.6p to 71.05p and Lloyds Banking Group eased 1.12p to 47.2p.

A poor session for oil and gas stocks also weighed on the Footsie, as oil prices lagged near the two-month lows hit last week of around $71 a barrel.

BG Group dropped 17.5p to 1094.5p despite Goldman Sachs raising its price target, and prospector Cairn Energy lost 3.3p to 318.3p.

Inter-dealer broker Icap recouped some of its heavy falls seen at the end of last week following its shock profit warning, adding 9.7p to 303.7p or 3%.

Meanwhile International Power added 6.7p to 320.6p after weekend reports suggested a revamped bid for the business from French giant Suez. The two ended talks over a merger in January.

The biggest Footsie risers were Randgold Resources up 271p to 4480p, Fresnillo up 35.5p at 705p, Xstrata up 33.8p at 983.8p and Icap up 9.7p at 303.7p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Legal & General down 2.6p at 71.05p, British Airways down 7p at 199p, Aviva off 9.4p at 355.7p and Prudential down 14p at 560.5p.

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