Britain’s blue-chip share index carved out modest gains today as robust factory output data buoyed mining stocks and as homebuilders shrugged off worse-than-expected mortgage approval data.
Mining stocks across Europe, including London-listed BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lifted after data showed that Chinese factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in five months in May. There was also reassuring numbers from the latest manufacturing purchasing managers’ index closer to home.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index gained 19.59 points or 0.3 per cent to 6,864.1 despite news that UK mortgage approvals fell more than expected in April to their lowest level in nine months.
David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “The FTSE 100 has clung on thanks to the strenuous efforts of the mining sector, which continues to be buoyed by China optimism.”
Barratt Developments was up 4.4p to 361.6p after Goldman Sachs raised its stance on the housebuilder to “buy”.
It said housing market data remains positive and that a recent slide in the company’s share price offered a buying opportunity. Other building stocks were on the front foot, with Berkeley up 45p to 2,300p and Persimmon 10p higher at 1,348p.
Standard Life was one the biggest fallers in the top flight as Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the proposed introduction of collective pension schemes in the UK added more uncertainty for investors. Shares were 6.7p lower at 393.3p.
Tesco fell 3p to 300.55p amid speculation that the supermarket chain will report more disappointing sales figures in a first-quarter trading update on Wednesday.
Analysts at Barclays expect like-for-like sales will be down 4.1 per cent, an acceleration on the 2.9 per cent slide the retailer posted in the fourth quarter of the 2013/14 financial year.