FTSE rallies to a close

Strong gains in the mining sector helped the London market regain its poise today after yesterday’s heavy losses.

Strong gains in the mining sector helped the London market regain its poise today after yesterday’s heavy losses.

The FTSE 100 Index closed up 59.9 points at 5784 despite a brief spell in negative territory mid-session amid nervousness over Wall Street’s opening.

US futures markets had indicated early falls for America’s Dow Jones Industrial Average, but US stocks struggled to make headway in either direction.

In London, heavily-weighted miners provided much of the uplift after higher copper prices buoyed the sector, providing some much-needed cheer after yesterday’s 2.6% decline.

Antofagasta was up 42.5p to 722.5p, or 6%, while Lonmin rose 5%, adding 147p to 3100p.

Anglo American was also higher, up 100p at 2980p after its 45%-owned diamond producer De Beers reported a 14% hike in underlying earnings.

Catering giant Compass also made good progress after it reported a strong first quarter and operating profits “well ahead” of the previous year. Shares were up 4%, or 12.75p, to 326.5p.

Oil and gas explorer BG Group gained 52p to 1170p after UBS upgraded the stock following well-received results yesterday.

Meanwhile the blue-chips which disappointed the market with results yesterday were on the back foot again today, with directories publisher Yell and engine giant Rolls-Royce the leading Footsie fallers.

Morgan Stanley raised concerns over Rolls-Royce’s balance sheet as shares slipped 19p to 412p, more than 4%. Yell added more hefty losses to yesterday’s 15% decline seen after its third quarter results disappointed. Shares closed today down another 6%, or 17.75p to 262p.

In a poor session for the major pharmaceutical firms Shire was off 18.5p to 937.5p after a downgrade from Lehman Brothers. AstraZeneca was pulled down 32p to 1947p.

The stocks were closely followed by GlaxoSmithKline, which fell a further 8p to 1070p after warning of lower earnings this year.

Meanwhile B&Q owner Kingfisher lost ground after UBS cut this year’s pre-tax profits forecast from £415 million to £370 million, sending shares 0.9p lower to to 135p. Enterprise Inns was another victim of a Lehman Brothers mark-down as shares fell 11p to 419.5p.

In the FTSE 250, waste collection firm Biffa soared 13%, or 41.5p, to 369.5p after recommending a private equity takeover. Shares surged past the 350p offer price as the company said other parties remained interested, sparking hopes of a better deal.

Bisto gravy granules and Hovis bread owner Premier Foods was the biggest faller in the second tier, losing more than 9% after rumours of a rights issue and a downgrade from broker Shore Capital. The stock was down 11.25p to 108.75p despite saying it was “not contemplating” the move.

The biggest Footsie risers were Antofagasta up 42.5p at 722.5p, Lonmin ahead 147p at 3100p, Kazakhmys up 59p at 1247p and BG Group up 52p at 1170p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Yell Group down 17.75p at 262p, Rolls-Royce Group off 19p at 412p, ITV down 2.6p at 71p and Enterprise Inns down 11p at 419.5p.

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