Footsie on the up

The London market made further progress today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 12,000 for the second session running in New York.

The London market made further progress today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 12,000 for the second session running in New York.

The FTSE 100 Index edged back towards its recent five-and-a-half year high with a gain of 5.6 points to 6156 as investors remained bullish on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mining stocks added weight to the market in London although investors were left disappointed by rumours that Corus was on the verge of backing a takeover deal with Indian conglomerate Tata.

Shares in Corus fell 8.5p to 478.5p amid reports that the board had accepted a 455p a share offer and will announce the £4.1 billion deal tomorrow.

The Anglo-Dutch steel maker has been buoyed by the prospect of a takeover in recent months with analysts hoping for a deal worth as much as £5.6 billion, or 580p a share.

The banking sector was also on the slide after Egg owner Prudential warned of a “marked deterioration” in market trends.

The Pru warned that borrowing levels were down and added that the number of Egg customers employing debt management companies in the last quarter increased by 40% on the previous quarter.

Among the banks, HSBC fell 12p to 1001.5p, HBOS was off 12p to 1077p, Royal Bank of Scotland was down 15p to 1868p and Northern Rock dipped 11p to 1191p.

Prudential gained nearly 3% or 16p to 645.5p, however, after it posted third quarter figures today. It did little for the rest of the insurance sector with Norwich Union owner Aviva up 1.5p to 787.5p while Friends Provident and Legal & General dropped a quarter of a penny each to 193p and 143p respectively. Royal & Sun Alliance was unchanged at 150.25p.

But there was better news for miners as Xstrata topped the blue chip risers board with a gain of 69p to 2241p. It was followed up by Anglo American, which lifted 49p to 2431p, and Kazakhmys, which was 22p stronger at 1227p.

And Yell Group cheered 17.5p to 618.5p after a broker note reflected on the positive sentiment in the directory market.

Mothercare shares fell 1% as the retailer reported a weaker quarterly sales growth rate for its UK business. While chief executive Ben Gordon remained happy with the performance, shares were off 5.25p to 353p.

But shares in Informa Group jumped 14% after an approach by Springer Science & Business Media. Informa said discussions were “highly preliminary” but it was enough to spark interest from investors as the stock lifted 71.25p to 570p.

Meanwhile, RDF Media Group – maker of TV shows including Wife Swap and Location, Location, Location – traded flat at 233.5p, despite announcing deals to make three new TV programmes in the US and reporting a 46% rise in pre-tax profits to £2.2 million.

The biggest blue chip risers were Xstrata up 69p to 2241p, Yell 17.5p higher at 618.5p, ITV 2.75p better off at 104.75p and Prudential up 16p to 645.5p.

The heaviest fallers were Scottish Power off 12p to 655p, Corus down 8.5p to 478.5p, Morrisons 4p lower at 253.5p and Severn Trent down 21p to 1441p.

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