The FTSE 100 Index has received a boost from the property sector during a quiet session as investors in the US took a break from trading.
As tensions on the Korean peninsula cooled, the London market resisted ongoing concerns from the eurozone debt crisis and closed 41.8 points ahead at 5698.9.
The pound dipped slightly against most currencies after Bank of England members gave testimony to a Treasury Select Committee on the outlook for the UK economy. It fell to 1.57 against the dollar, and 1.17 against the euro.
Capital Shopping Centres surged 13%, or 43.6p to 381p, to the top of the risers board after a major shareholder revealed it was interested in making an offer for the firm, which owns the Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock.
Simon Property Group, which is the largest shopping mall owner in the United States, wants Capital to delay its proposed acquisition of Manchester’s Trafford Centre until it has the chance to present its possible bid. The developments fired up shares across the property sector, with Hammerson up 18.4p to 405.8p, British Land 13.8p higher at 492p and Land Securities 15p stronger at 654.5p.
Other risers included Marks & Spencer after Arden Partners upped its rating on the stock to buy from neutral and said the cold weather offered the ideal trading conditions for clothing retailers ahead of Christmas. M&S shares rose 9.1p to 384.1p, while elsewhere in the retail sector B&Q-owner Kingfisher added 5.3p to 249.5p and Sainsbury’s lifted 7.2p to 365.3p.
In the FTSE 250 Index, shares in engineering design consultancy WS Atkins rose 2% or 17p to 714.5p after a 2% rise in underlying half-year profits prompted Numis Securities to introduce a buy recommendation on the stock.
Traders were also focused on results from Dixons Retail and Daily Mail & General Trust. The newspaper group reported strong annual results but shares fell back 4% or 20p to 544.5p as accounting changes hit forecasts and analysts noted the company’s continued cautious assessment of trading prospects.
Dixons fell 0.1p to 26.5p as chief executive John Browett delivered solid first half results but highlighted the competitive and tough conditions in store for the PC World and Currys chain over the Christmas trading period.
The biggest Footsie risers were Capital Shopping Centres up 43.6p at 381p, Hammerson ahead 18.4p at 405.8p, Cairn Energy up 13.2p at 393.7p and Whitbread ahead 51p at 1750p and the biggest Footsie fallers were Compass down 18p at 548p, Essar Energy off 4.5p at 502p, Amec down 10p at 1128p and African Barrick off 4p at 521p.