Mining stocks helped the FTSE 100 Index return to positive territory during another busy session for corporate news today.
Kazakhmys and Antofagasta were 2% higher following upbeat broker notes, while Rentokil Initial rose on hopes of progress in its restructuring.
By lunchtime the Footsie stood 9.3 points higher at 5937.6, as the market pulled out of its slump of yesterday to resume growth seen last week.
The top flight stood 21.5 points higher at one point, but was dragged back by the prospect of a mixed opening for shares in New York.
Among companies reporting, results from Halifax Bank of Scotland caused barely a ripple in the banking sector despite profits ahead of expectations.
HBOS shares were 5.5p lower at 969p, while Lloyds TSB was down 3.5p at 535.5p as it prepared for its own half-year results tomorrow. Barclays, which posts figures on Thursday, was 2p higher at 630p and HSBC dipped 7.5p to 963.5p following a 18% surge in half-year profits of £6.7bn (€9.8bn) yesterday.
Events in the banking sector were overshadowed by positive notes on mining companies, including a forecast that Kazakhmys shares could be worth up to 1500p. The stock lifted 31p to 1282p, while a similar factor helped Antofagasta to cheer 7.75p to 426p.
The rise of 3.25p to 167p for Rentokil Initial came as analysts began to ponder whether results from the company later in the month will prove to be better than expected as restructuring initiatives take effect.
Online gambling firm PartyGaming found itself at the top of the fallers board - down 1.75p at 107.75p – following more bad news for rival BetonSports, which yesterday saw an extension of a order banning the company from taking bets from the US. Competitor 888 suffered a similar fate, losing 8.25p to 148.75p.
Sportingbet fell 3%, or 7.25p to 238.5p, after a broker cut its target on the stock, despite a trading update forecasting results in line with expectations.
Meanwhile, news of the continued bidding war for retirement homes builder McCarthy & Stone sparked a 17p rise in the firm’s shares to 1094p.
Investors reacted favourably to an improved £1.1bn (€1.6bn) offer from a consortium made up of Bank of Scotland and billionaire investors Simon and David Reuben and Sir Tom Hunter.
Builders merchant Travis Perkins, which has been battling struggling sales at its Wickes DIY stores, boomed 100p to 1625p after reporting improved pre-tax profits and forecasting a “gradual recovery” during the rest of the year.