Market Report: Barclays analysts were cautiously impressed with RSA's Stephen Hester

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The Independent Online

RSA has been doing the rounds with investors after last month's "disappointing" set of results and Barclays are cautiously impressed.

New boss Stephen Hester lifted the bonnet on the insurer at an investor day in New York recently, clarifying a few key points from its annual report. He told Barclays analysts that despite emergency measures announced in the report to plug a capital shortfall, he is "confident" of hitting a 12-15 per cent return on tangible equity target – a measure of shareholder returns – over the medium term, but wouldn't say when this is likely to be beaten.

Barclays' number crunchers were satisfied, but kept RSA, down 1.85p at 92.95p, as a neutral.

Tensions in Ukraine and fears over slowing Chinese growth continued to weigh on the markets yesterday. Rumours of more Chinese defaults after last week's landmark default on bond payments by Chaori Solar also hit mining stocks.

Ishaq Siddiqi at ETX Capital commented: "Commodities, particularly metals like copper, declined sharply on the China concerns – gold, however, has managed to book gains thanks to its "safe-haven" label."

The precious metal miners Fresnillo, up 18p at 900p, Randgold Resources, 57p higher at 4,927p, and African Barrick Gold, 10p better at 260p, all benefited.

The benchmark index wasn't helped by major stocks going ex-dividend, with British American Tobacco falling 116.5p to 3,218p, HSBC off 17.4p at 599.2p and Standard Chartered down 46p at 1,203p.

The FTSE 100 closed down 64.62 points at 6,620.90, a one-month low.

Vodafone, up 3.3p to 229.55p, was among the few risers. The telecoms giant will hear today whether its revised bid for the Spanish cable operator Ono has been successful.

William Hill, up 5.3p to 381.4p, also galloped higher after Jefferies predicted that the bookie's share price could double in the next three years.

On the mid-cap index, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, up 54p at 1,527p, was top of the table after revealing its full-year profit more than doubled to $212m.