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Monday 22 October 2018

Mining firms send London’s top flight higher

The blue chip index closed up 0.33%, or 26.57 points, at 7,712.37.

The FTSE 100 edged up on Wednesday (PA)
The FTSE 100 edged up on Wednesday (PA)

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

The FTSE 100 ended in positive territory on Wednesday as miners led London’s top flight higher.

The blue chip index closed up 0.33%, or 26.57 points, at 7,712.37, propped up by the likes of Rio Tinto and Anglo American which booked gains off the back of higher copper and oil prices.

“A 0.3% gain in the FTSE 100 to 7,708 on Wednesday is principally driven by the mining sector which is getting a boost from higher base metal and oil prices,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

Some of the strength in sterling is being constrained by tensions over the upcoming vote on various Brexit bill amendments Michael Hewson

In stocks, shares in packaging giant Smurfit Kappa ended the day up 16p at 2,936p after suitor International Paper scrapped plans for an 8.9 billion euro (£7.8 billion) takeover offer for the firm.

Smurfit had rebuffed the proposed bid, saying it failed to reflect its true value with the board adding that it believes the company has “superior prospects as a standalone business”.

WH Smith shares rose 148p to 2,124p after the high street chain reported a 4% rise in group sales over the 13 weeks to June 2, while like-for-like sales grew 1%, compared to a year earlier.

Its travel arm – which accounts for shops based in the likes of train stations and airports – saw the biggest growth with total sales up 8%.

At the other end of the midcap index, plastics firm RPC Group closed down 12%, or 92.2p, at 681.8p, with investors fretting over a proposed directive banning use of certain plastic products.

In May, the European Union proposed measures to reduce marine litter by imposing a plastic ban in certain products. These include plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons.

In Europe, France’s Cac 40 closed down 0.06% and Germany’s Dax closed up 0.34%.

In currencies, the boost sterling received from Tuesday’s better than expected services data helped pushed the pound to a two-week high against the US dollar.

The British currency was up marginally against the dollar at 1.341 but sterling faltered versus the euro, dipping 0.4% to 1.138.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “The pound had a decent day after a better than expected services PMI number for May showed a significant improvement in economic activity reinforcing the belief that the slowdown seen in March was no more than a cold weather-related blip.”

However, Mr Hewson added that Brexit jitters are still weighing on the currency.

“Some of the strength in sterling is being constrained by tensions over the upcoming vote on various Brexit bill amendments which are due to be debated next week in Parliament,” he said.

The price of Brent crude was down 1.26% to 74 US dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Rio Tinto up 143.5p at 4,492p, Barratt Developments up 18p at 569.4p, Antofagasta up 35p at 1,149p and Anglo American up 55.8 at 1,914.6p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 United Utilities down 15.2p at 771.2p, Imperial Brands down 51.5p at 2,632p, Unilever down 74p at 4,092p and Royal Mail down 5.4p to 486.7p.

Press Association

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