Market Report: Antofagasta leads the way on day of miner victories

A surprise loosening of the reins by China on its monetary policy meant the heavyweight diggers were back in demand last night. As the country's central bank dropped the amount of cash lenders must keep in reserve for the first time in nearly three years, the blue-chip miners stormed ahead, with Antofagasta leading the charge.

The Chilean copper group powered up 100p to 1,184p to take the top spot on the benchmark index, while Kazakhmys – up 56.5p to 925p and Xstrata – up 62p to 1,017p – were not far behind. The sector has been particularly sensitive to China's attempts to dampen inflation by increasing the bank reserve ratio, as well as interest rates, but the switch in tactics suggests it is also prepared to tackle growth concerns.

Yet there were some voices suggesting the move was a cynical attempt to distract investors from China's latest PMI numbers, which were due to be released late last night, amid talk they could come in worse than expected.

Still, the news helped the FTSE 100 in what turned out to be a session of two halves. In early trading it dipped before an intraday swing of roughly 5 per cent saw it shoot up 168.42 points to 5,505.42, dramatically cutting the top-tier index's losses over November – yet another volatile month – to under 40 points.

As well as Beijing's announcement and strong jobs figures from the US, punters were also persuaded to rediscover their risk appetite after a number of central banks – including the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve – revealed a surprise agreement to provide liquidity to the banking system.

The joint attempt moved the UK banks higher after they were initially in the red following a number of ratings downgrades across the sector from Standard & Poor's. Royal Bank of Scotland increased by 1.47p to 20.99p while Lloyds advanced 1.64p to 24.82p and Barclays was pushed up 11.25p to 180.25p, despite all three having their ratings cut.

There were just five blue-chip losers by the bell, including Cairn Energy. Following rumours last week of imminent bad news from its controversial Greenland drilling campaign, the oil explorer admitted two more of its Arctic wells had been plugged and abandoned, and it was pegged back 2.7p to 272.3p as a result.

Reckitt Benckiser was another missing out on the rally, with the Cillit Bang manufacturer managing to creep up only 19p to 3,219p. The consumer goods giant – whose other brands include Gaviscon and Durex – was knocked by its deputy chairman, Peter Harf, selling nearly £13.5m of shares.

Amec edged up only 2p to 868.5p despite being picked out by HSBC as one of its favourite UK stocks in a generally bullish note on the oil services sector. The broker's analysts also singled out its mid-tier peers Lamprell (10.1p stronger at 281.2p) and Hunting (27p stronger at 689p), saying the latter had been recently "transformed".

Down on the FTSE 250, the rumour mill continued to turn, as Go-Ahead became the latest to be touted by City gossips as a possible bid target. The vague takeover speculation mentioned no names, while dealers were rather sceptical over the idea.

The bus company was still driven up 29p to 1,219p, however, though it did receive a push from Espirito Santo's Gerald Khoo. In his first look at the transport group, the analyst gave it a "buy" recommendation and a 1,550p price target, praising it as a "relatively safe haven in an uncertain economic environment".

Mr Khoo was also positive on Stagecoach and National Express, rating both as a "buy" as they were lifted 5.7p to 250.7p and 4p to 210p respectively. He was less optimistic over FirstGroup thanks to fears around its North America school bus business, though it still bumped up 12.1p to 326.3p.

There was some rare good news for AEA Technology after it revealed it had managed both to appoint an interim chief executive and agree fresh banking covenants. The troubled climate-change consultancy – which two weeks ago announced its second profits warning in just seven months – managed to add 40 per cent to close at 0.7p on the fledgling index.

On the Alternative Investment Market, Panmure Gordon admitted it would fail to turn a full-year profit thanks to the recent market turbulence, as it slumped 18.52 per cent to 11p.

Love will be in the air after Christmas, according to Numis Securities' Ivor Jones, who said it would boost the dating website Cupid as a result. The analyst argued that as "people's thoughts turn to relationships" in the aftermath of the festive season, the group – which soared up 21.75p to 207p – will be able to take advantage thanks to online advertising being particularly cheap at that time of year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk