A BUSY day for updates and news spelled contrasting fortunes for London’s blue chips, but a downgrading of European growth forecasts ensured the FTSE closed lower.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC, said: “The mining sector has been the best performing sector after Chinese HSBC services data pointed to a fairly constructive outlook for the Chinese economy in the short term.”
Anglo American and Antofagasta were among those heading higher, but that wasn’t enough to keep equity markets in the black as the EU downgraded its growth forecasts for the euro area in 2014.
German car maker BMW also put the brakes on European indices after profits fell back. The FTSE 100 Index pared some of its earlier heavier losses to close 16.78 points lower at 6,746.84.
Anglo American added 41.5p at 1,536p, while Antofagasta climbed 25.5p to 889p.
The Footsie’s biggest riser was Marks & Spencer, up 4.5 per cent at 509p as the City judged its latest drop in sales was already more than priced in. Ironically Associated British Foods, which owns M&S rival Primark, moved in the opposite direction after it posted full-year results showing a 13 per cent rise in underlying profits. Shares were 47p lower at 2,208p as analysts turned cautious after an extremely strong run in recent months.
Lambert & Butler maker Imperial Tobacco managed to add more than 3 per cent at 2,382p even as it said market conditions remained tough as it reported a 2 per cent fall in own-brand sales for the year to September. The firm also said chairman Iain Napier is to retire in February.
RSA Insurance was the biggest faller in the top flight after it cut its full-year guidance due to the impact of last month’s storms. Shares slid 8.1p to 121p.