Weak inflation boosts FTSE

Mining firms and weaker than expected inflation figures provided a boost to the London market today, offsetting declines from a host of property companies.

Mining firms and weaker than expected inflation figures provided a boost to the London market today, offsetting declines from a host of property companies.

British Land fell more than 3% after a cautious outlook statement disappointed investors.

However, the FTSE 100 Index held firm, rising 8.4 points to 6361.9, as takeover speculation in the mining sector ensured the blue-chip index remained in positive territory.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were on the front foot after speculation that they were eyeing a bid for Alcoa, the US based aluminium producer. BHP Billiton led the sector with a gain of more than 2%, or 22p to 1071p, while Rio Tinto was 49p ahead at 2735p.

Anglo American rose 49p to 2498p, Vedanta Resources was up 16p at 1215p and Xstrata gained 39p to 2395p.

British Land was the biggest faller of the session, down 53p to 1626p, after it warned property yields had slipped during last year and said growth in the value of its property portfolio slowed to 1.7% in the third quarter.

Liberty International followed on the fallers’ board, down 31p at 1295p, amid investor jitters ahead of its full-year results tomorrow, while Slough Estates was 21p lower at 762p, Hammerson was off 19p at 1608p and Land Securities dipped 38p to 2212p.

Directories group Yell continued to advance, up 6.5p to 626p, as investors remained positive after the publication of quarterly figures last week.

Banking group Bradford & Bingley slipped 4.75p to 461.5p even as it posted an 8% rise in underlying pre-tax profits amid record mortgage lending.

In the FTSE 250 Index, transport companies were making headway after a note on the sector from broker Collins Stewart. The firm named Stagecoach as its preferred pick, sending its shares 4p higher at 169p, but also causing FirstGroup to gain 17p to 605.5p and National Express to lift 28p to 1131p.

Halfords was 4.75p higher at 380.25p after a positive broker note, while JJB Sports rose 0.75p to 255.5p – off earlier levels – as investors compared its value with the flotation price outlined by Sports World owner Sports Direct.

The second-tier was led by MyTravel for a second successive session after the company’s merger with Thomas Cook was revealed yesterday. Shares rose by nearly a third on Monday and were up another 4%, or 14.25p to 320.25p, today.

Power producer British Energy slipped 13.5p to 410.5p, or more than 3%, as it warned the restart of its Hunterston nuclear reactor could drift into April.

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