FTSE up almost 50 points

The FTSE 100 Index pushed away from the 6000 barrier today as miners surged following a commodities rally that saw the price of oil hit fresh highs.

FTSE up almost 50 points

The FTSE 100 Index pushed away from the 6000 barrier today as miners surged following a commodities rally that saw the price of oil hit fresh highs.

The traditional safe haven of gold set a new record of $1,474 an ounce, while silver was at its highest since the early 1980s as supply concerns lifted Brent crude to a two-and-a-half year high of $125 a barrel.

The gains by miners helped the blue-chip index improve 48.4 points to 6055.8, as it reversed all of the losses sustained on Thursday when jittery traders dumped stocks following news that Japan had been hit by another earthquake.

The commodities rally also affected currency markets by weakening the dollar. The pound was up to 1.64 against the greenback but down to 1.14 against the euro, which gained strength following the decision by the European Central Bank to raise interest rates to 1.25% from 1%.

Miners and energy companies dominated the top flight risers board, with Anglo American the biggest winner, up 4%, or 125p to 3344p. Rio Tinto was also up 139p to 4524p after it completed a deal to gain majority control of its rival Riversdale.

Energy giant BP was up 3.6p to 478.5p despite its failure to overturn the attempted block on its tie-up with Russian state-backed oil firm Rosneft.

In contrast, travel and leisure companies suffered as traders feared the high oil prices could have further implications for their profit margins.

Cruise ship company Carnival was down 69p to 2373p, while Thomson and First Choice owner TUI Travel dropped 1.4p to 233.4p and British Airways-owner International Consolidated Airlines Group was down 5.6p at 217.4p.

Investors took heart following by the European Central Bank's decision to raise interest rates, which was taken as a sign that the region's economy is improving.

A broad-based rally for London's shares saw gains for insurance pair Prudential and Aviva - up 14.5p at 748p and 4.8p to 452.1p respectively.

There was also an improvement for retail stocks after the latest weekly sales report from John Lewis showed sales excluding VAT rose 1.4% in the seven days leading up to Mother's Day.

Risers included Next, which lifted 18p to 2070p, while Marks & Spencer added 2.7p to 359.6p.

JD Sports Fashion proved the exception ahead of its results next week, falling 2% or 22p to 875.5p, making it the one of the biggest fallers in the FTSE 250 Index.

Elsewhere in the second tier, housebuilders were also under pressure after Bovis Homes declined 7.6p to 423.6p and Barratt Developments slipped 0.9p to 108.1p.

Back in the top flight, mobile phone giant Vodafone, which is one of London's most commonly traded stocks, finished down 1p at 176.5p even though JP Morgan raised its price target.

The biggest Footsie risers were Anglo American up 125p to 3344p, Rio Tinto ahead 139p at 4524p, Xstrata up 40.5p to 1513.5p, and BHP Billiton ahead 68.5p at 2585.5p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Icap down 21p at 519p, Carnival off 69p at 2373p, International Consolidated Airlines Group down 5.6p at 217.4p, and Aggreko off 30p at 1666p.

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