FTSE 100 zooms north on miners, banks

London stocks closed strongly higher with the blue-chip ladder guided compellingly north by a string of mining heavyweights as gold and silver prices firmed. A further fillip was provided by banks and insurers.

Rio Tinto (RIO) led the pack with a 6.62% rise to 3221.5p, with Anglo American (AAL) adding 4.81% to 1252p and BHP Billiton (BLT) rising 3.87% to 1361.75p. FTSE 350 indices for industrial metals and mining were up, respectively, 5.34% and 4.57%.

At about 4.44pm, gold was up 0.73% to $1178.7/oz, and copper was 1.42% lower to 264.2 cents a pound. Three-month industrial metals, barring zinc, were lower, too. Silver was up 2.32% to $17.20/oz. WTI crude was down 1.0% to $50.42/bbl and Brent was down 0.72% to $53.54/bbl.

Banks were led by Lloyds (LLOY), up 4.69% to 62.27p and Standard Chartered (STAN), up 4.21% to 684.65p. Among insurers, Old Mutual (OML) rose 4.1% to 195.6p and Prudential (PRU) rose 4.09% to 1649.25p. The FTSE 350’s banks index was up 3.93% and that for life insurance was up 3.74%.

HSBC (HSBA) was up 3.91% to 679.6p despite being named among three banks fined €485m for rigging a key European benchmark rate. The others were JPMorgan and Credit Agricole. Several other UK banks settled in 2013.

Blue-chip risers outnumbered fallers 85 to 15, with 39 of those issues on the up enjoying gains of 2% or more. Supermarkets, commercial property, leisure, high-street retail, oil, general financial and house builder were all beneficiaries of the positive sentiment.

To the very limited downside, the story was written by several pharmas and consumer goods. Shire (SHP) flopped 4.49% to 4356.25p and Astrazeneca (AZN) eased 0.76% to 4007p. Unilever (ULVR) dropped 0.77% to 3111p and Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) slipped 0.21% to 6538p.

Sage (SGE), up 1.49% to 628.75p, noted media speculation and confirmed it was evaluating potential strategic options for its North American payments business, including a sale.

At the close, FTSE 100 was up 122.39 points, or 1.81%, to 6902.23, while FTSE 250 was up 173.44, or 0.99%, to 17,625.5.

BIGGER MOVERS

LGO Energy (LGO), up 27.91% to 0.14p, is to restart drilling at the Goudron field after signing a new funding deal. The funding deal would would pay off its entire remaining debt to BNP Paribas, and put in place a new $8.6m Convertible Security Funding Agreement.

Cloudtag (CTAG), up 25.81% to 14.62p, notes the recent rise in its share price and confirmed there was no further information to be updated to the market since its announcement of Dec. 5.

Bilby (BILB), down 16.89% to 61.5p, notes a restatement of prior-year financial statements. It expected reported pretax profit for its 2016 financial statements to be restated, reducing pretax profit to £718,000, from the £1.37m previously reported.

ECONOMIC NEWS

Stateside, the number of US job openings was little changed at 5.5m on the last business day of October, US Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Over the month, hires and separations were also little changed at 5.1 million and 4.9 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.1% and the layoffs and discharges rate was also flat at 1.0%.

Back in UK, Halifax’s house-price index rose 0.2% in November, in line with forecasts and following a revised 1.5% rise in October.

UK’s manufacturing production fell 0.9% in October, versus expectations for a 0.2% rise and from a 0.6% gain previously. UK’s industrial production eased 1.3%, against forecasts for a 0.2% rise and from a fall on 0.4% previously.

Germany’s industrial production rose 0.3% in October, which was below the expected rise of 0.9% and from a fall of 1.8% previously. Meantime, France’s trade deficit expanded in October to €5.2bn, after a €4.79bn shortfall in September. The market anticipated a deficit of €4.2bn.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Mineral & Financial (MAFL), up 14.29% to 6p, said re-testing of historical holes at Lagoa Salgada has revealed 93m of mineralisation containing 2.85% copper equivalent, and points to a new geological structure.

LiDCO (LID), down 7.14% to 6.5p, has conditionally raised £3.0m gross via a placing and subscriptions at 6p a share. Both require shareholder approval. Milestone (MSG), up 10.53% to 0.52p, intends to pursue a company placee relating to outstanding proceeds from its October placing, and unveiled some details of a new placing.

Prospex Oil & Gas (PXOG), down 6.38% to 2.20p, has appointed Strand Hanson Ltd as its Nominated and Financial Adviser with immediate effect. Be Heard (BHRD), up 5.88% to 3.6p, has acquired Kameleon Worldwide Ltd, an award-winning content marketing agency.

Carillion (CLLN), down 3.87% to 246.2p, said its performance is meeting forecasts and it expects strong growth in total revenue and increased operating profit. Kodal Minerals (KOD), up 3.03% to 0.09p, said first rock-chip assay results confirm high-grade lithium mineralisation at the Bougouni lithium project.

Private & Commercial Finance (PCF), up 3.45% to 30p, was advised on 6 December 2016 that its application for a Banking Licence has been successful and has been approved by the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Redhall (RHL), up 2.94% to 8.75p, has materially improved its FY pretax loss from continuing operations to £1.1m, from a loss of £3.6m. Revenue was £43.8m, from £44.7m.

Inmarsat (ISAT), up 2.65% to 717.5p, has signed a contract with Air New Zealand to provide Global Xpress (GX) connectivity across the airline’s long-haul and short-haul fleets.

Tertiary Minerals (TYM), up 2.22% to 1.15p, has entered into a non-binding Heads of Terms to acquire land and historic mine workings on its Lassedalen fluorspar project in Norway from global aluminium company, Hydro.

Stagecoach (SGC), up 1.85% to 209.5p, has posted an H1 pretax profit of £89.5m, from £90.8m. Its expectation for 2016/17 adjusted earnings per share was broadly unchanged, it said. Interim dividend was 14.4p a share, from 17.09p.

Other stocks in the news included Ironveld (IRON), John Lewis of Hungerford (JLH), Porta Communications (PTCM), SerVision (SEV), AB Dynamics (ABDP), Oakley Capital Investments (OCL), Numis (NUM), Joules (JOUL), Tethyan (TETH), Bluefield Solar Income (BSIF), Arrow Global (ARW), Kromek (KMK) and The Monks Investment Trust (MNKS). Story provided by StockMarketWire.com