FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: Miners rally carries little conviction

The London market made modest gains as battered mining stocks staged a “relief rally” in the absence of further bad news.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 14.73 points higher at 6,557.17, as Anglo American and Fresnillo each added around 2 per cent at 1,439.5p and 885p respectively.

David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “Natural resource stocks have been in a slump lately after copper hit a 44-month low, and traders are not particularly confident in the mining sector. This is therefore merely a relief rally, and further cracks in the Chinese credit market could send the miners lower.”

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The blue-chip fallers’ board included Royal Bank of Scotland, which dropped 6.2p to 299.1p after the part-nationalised bank was downgraded by brokers at Barclays. It said hefty restructuring costs were likely to hold back its value until 2016, and that the group faced a long road to recovery before healthy returns could be expected.

Fellow taxpayer-backed bank Lloyds was off 1.4p at 77.4p.

Shares in bookmakers remained under pressure after the Budget increased the tax on fixed odds betting terminals.

William Hill, which estimated the cost of the move at around £22 million, fell by a further 7.5p to 339.1p, and has now lost upwards of £300m in value since Wednesday. Ladbrokes was down 3.1p at 131p.

The pensions industry also remained under pressure following changes to annuity rules. Legal & General, which fell sharply in the wake of the Budget announcement but steadied the next day, was the biggest faller in the top flight with a slide of 3 per cent, down 7.1p to 206p.

Partnership Assurance, which provides enhanced annuities for people with lower life expectancies, lost half its value in the wake of the Chancellor’s speech and was down again in the latest session, when shares fell 1.8p to 122.2p.