Resurgent mining stocks and a fresh bout of merger and acquisition activity lifted the FTSE 100 Index to near its highest point of the year.
The index was 37.18 points higher at 6,851.75, with signs of a rebound in activity in China on the back of political reforms helping London’s heavyweight commodity firms.
Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said more than half of the Footsie’s move could be attributed to the miners.
“Miners make up the majority of equities on the FTSE leader board, as speculation that fresh impetus could be triggered by Chinese intervention,” he said.
With broker JP Morgan upgrading its recommendation on the sector after being “underweight” on the industry for more than two years, Rio Tinto surged 5 per cent or 151.5p to 3,340p, Antofagasta lifted 27p to 796p and BHP Billiton cheered 51.5p to 1,948p.
BSkyB’s confirmation of a possible £8 billion swoop for 21st Century Fox’s Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland stakes provided the wider market with further evidence that merger and acquisition activity is on the way back.
But the potential cost weighed on Sky’s share price and made it the biggest faller in the top flight, down 21.5p at 868.5p.
BT was also impacted as investors fretted about the potential threat of increased competition from its pay-TV rival. Its shares fell 8.2p to 374.3p, while ITV was 2.2p lower at 186.8p in a tough session for the media sector.
But shares in outsourcing firm Capita made headway after it reported a strong start to the year, with £1.1bn of new sales including contracts with Transport for London, John Lewis and the Ministry of Defence.
With its bid pipeline now standing at £5.5bn, shares lifted 15p to 1,117p.