Market Report: Mining stocks recovery gives FTSE a boost


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The Independent Online

A recovery from mining stocks gave the FTSE 100 a much-needed afternoon pick-me-up.

Anglo American, up 45.5p to 1048.5p, led the charge after comments from its iron ore sales boss that the company would start hedging to protect itself against any more falls from the commodity price.

Last month analysts at Investec suggested the miner should sell the iron ore division, potentially to Chinese buyers, arguing that it poses a risk if prices tumble further.

Fellow iron ore giants Rio Tinto, up 67.5p to 2,902p, and BHP Billiton, up 24p to 1,383.5p, also reversed Monday’s mining declines which stemmed from weak Chinese manufacturing data.

The sector helped the FTSE 100 mount a mini-revival, closing 25.31 points lower at 6,928.27. The will-they-won’t-they Greek debt stalemate story dominated the agenda and the market became more optimistic about a deal when Greece’s Prime Minister claimed to have submitted a “realistic plan” to solve its problems.

Investors soaked up Wolseley’s third-quarter update. The British plumbing supplies group, up 81p to 4,100p, recorded sales of £3.3bn, a rise of more than 12 per cent from the same period last year.

Merlin Entertainments was the heaviest faller on the benchmark index, down 15.9p to 444.3p as news broke of a rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers, seriously injuring four people.

Synergy Health’s annual results revealed the healthcare group’s profit growth has stalled and shareholders were left unrewarded as the dividend was scrapped. But the shares, which fell as much as 20 per cent last week when US regulators opposed its proposed merger with the US group Steris, rose 7p to 1,820p as the FTSE 250 firm stressed the deal’s merits.

Oxford Pharmascience raised eyebrows after drumming up £20m in a placing at 10p, four times the amount it was targeting, with star fund manager Neil Woodford snapping up another 100 million shares in the drug reformulation specialist. The AIM-listed company, down 0.38p to 11.5p, said it would apply for a waiver so Mr Woodford is not forced to make an offer for the whole company now his holding is above 30 per cent.