Heavy losses by mining stocks overshadowed investor joy at Shell’s plan to scrap its historic twin-board structure today.
Although the oil giant led the way with a 5% rise, miners took up all the losing spots, limiting progress by the FTSE 100 Index.
By lunchtime the Footsie stood 2.2 points higher at 4632.3 after making gains of more than 30 points earlier in the session.
Some positive momentum was expected from across the Atlantic today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average tipped to add to yesterday’s gains of 113 points.
In London, Shell’s stock lifted 20.75p to 444.5p after it revealed the outcome of its review of its corporate structure and said net income more than doubled in the third quarter.
The group is proposing to ditch its twin board structure and relocate UK-based executives to The Hague as part of moves to prevent a repeat of its reserves crisis earlier this year.
But the enthusiasm of Shell investors was tempered by news that the oil group may downgrade its reserves for the fifth time since January.
British Airways was another major climber after an upbeat broker note – its stock rose nearly 4% or 7.25p to 213.75p.
But the outlook was bleak for miners, with analysts blaming heavy falls on China’s decision to raise interest rates. Xstrata lost 48p to 850p, BHP Billiton weakened 26.5p to 553p, Rio Tinto was off 62p to 1402p, Anglo American fell 51p to 1188p and Antofagasta lost 34p to 1010p.
Other losers included ICI, which dropped 4p to 212.75p despite unveiling an 11% rise in third-quarter profits and saying its sales outlook was positive.
Retailer Boots saw its shares drop more than 1% or 9.5p to 661.5p after revealing that the cost of implementing its radical modernisation plan had driven half-year operating profits down by 24%.
Pubs, hotels and leisure group Whitbread also dropped 18.5p to 812.5p after announcing an £800m (€1.15bn) programme of asset disposals and saying it plans to quit its London head office.
Pharmaceuticals group GlaxoSmithKline retreated 5p to 1146p after revealing it has lost £1.2bn (€1.7bn) in sales so far this year as a result of generic competition for two anti-depressant drugs.
Elsewhere, outdoor equipment retailer Blacks Leisure picked up the pace after reporting a 17% hike in first-half profits and revealing a former boss of optician Dolland & Aitchison is to take over at the helm. Shares rose 8p to 440.5p.
Airports operator TBI gained 1%, or a penny to 72.5p, after moving to buy the remaining 28% stake in Luton airport that it does not already own.