FTSE gains despite Wall St setback


The FTSE 100 Index was 18 points higher to 5988 by mid afternoon

Disappointing unemployment figures in the US failed to hold back gains on the London market as mining stocks pushed higher.

Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average was struggling to make headway after the US Labour department said the number of workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly surged last week by 51,000 to 454,000.

The FTSE 100 Index shrugged off the figures and moved 18 points higher to 5988 as the weighty mining sector benefited from firmer metal prices.

Gold miner Randgold Resources led the sector, moving 3% ahead or 141p at 4880.1p, while silver firm Fresnillo added 24p at 1354p and Anglo-Swiss group Eurasian Natural Resources advanced 12p to 1030p.

BSkyB shares rose more than 1% as strong half-year results heaped more pressure on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to seal a deal for the broadcaster.

With BSkyB posting a 26% rise in half-year operating profits to £520 million, shares rose 8.5p to 766p and are well above the 700p proposed by NewsCorp in the summer before it embarked on its quest for regulatory approval.

Other risers in London included pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca, which added 7.5p to 3081p, after it reported a smaller-than-expected drop in fourth quarter profits of 5% to 2.7 billion US dollars (£1.7 billion).

The performance of key brands such as cholesterol product Crestor helped it weather testing conditions, while revenues from emerging markets grew to more than 5 billion US dollars (£3.1 billion), with China accounting for one-fifth.

Retailer Next led the Footsie fallers board as investors reacted to a worse-than-expected update from Sweden’s H&M after a fall in profits due to higher cotton prices.

Next fell 2%, or 47p to 2038p, while Marks & Spencer dropped 4.3p to 361.7p and Primark owner Associated British Foods fell 13p to 1086p.

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