The collapse of a major mining takeover brought the London market back to earth today after the record gain of the previous session.
BHP Billiton’s withdrawal from its bid for Rio Tinto saw shares in Rio slump 36% or 879p to 1571p, while several other miners fell as traders booked profits after Monday’s surge.
By mid-morning the FTSE 100 Index was up 16.4 points to 4169.4 as blue-chips crawled into positive territory after beginning the session in the red.
The benchmark index saw a 10% advance yesterday in the wake of Citigroup’s rescue in the United States and British Chancellor Alastair Darling’s pre-Budget report.
Many miners were on the back foot today, including Lonmin and Antofagasta – off 42.5p to 812p and 21p to 409.75p respectively.
But relief at BHP Billiton’s withdrawal propelled the firm to the top of the Footsie risers board as it said the Rio tie-up now posed “unacceptable” risks to shareholders. BHP rose 179p to 1159p, a mammoth 18%.
Banks also had a good session in the wake of recent shareholder approval for public and private bail-out plans. Barclays – whose Middle East fundraising was approved yesterday – added 9.6p to 156.1p.
Lloyds TSB gained 8% or 12.6p to 160.2p and Royal Bank of Scotland cheered 4.7p to 55.5p.
In corporate news, Durex and Scholl firm SSL International rose 5% or 23.75p to 444.5p after half-year profits jumped 46%.
Sportswear chain JJB Sports also added 9% or 3p to 35.5p after it emerged that rival JD Sports Fashion had bought a 10% stake in the group.
But shares in Clinton Cards were under pressure after the greetings card retailer reported a deterioration in sales at its main Clinton business. Shares fell by as much as 20% before recovering to show a 2% decline, off 0.25p at 11p.