Mining stocks are poised to help push the FTSE 100 index towards an all-time high after Citi upgraded the sector’s rating.
Analysts at Citigroup raised their rating on the sector to “bullish” from “neutral” for the first time in three years.
Miners were among the worst-performing stocks last year, but traders now think that increased optimism surrounding the outlook for the global economy could boost the stocks.
The Footsie, which had closed at an eight-month high yesterday, ended today’s session down 4.44 points at 6,815.42 – hovering close to its 2013 high of 6,875.
David Madden, a market analyst at IG, said: “The mining sector is worth its weight in gold at the moment, as the only sector propping up the market.
“The recent cooling-off in the commodities super-cycle has meant that natural resource stocks are now undervalued.”
Rio Tinto’s well-received fourth-quarter results saw record iron ore production and cost cutting ahead of target for the year.
It prompted analysts at Canaccord Genuity to predict a small upgrade to profit predictions as the stock climbed 2 per cent, or 80.5p, to 3334.5p.
But it was fellow miner Antofagasta that topped the FTSE 100 risers’ board, climbing 5 per cent, or 42.5p, to 832.5p, while Fresnillo was up 36.5p to 732.5p.
Halfords set the pace in the FTSE 250 index after the retailer reported a 5.2 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, driven by significant growth in its bicycle department. Shares responded with a gain of nearly 7 per cent, up 31.5p to 492.5p.
Home Retail Group was 3.1p higher to 204.1p, after Argos like-for-like sales rose by 3.8 per cent and its Homebase DIY chain improved by 4.7 per cent.