MONDAY MARKET CLOSE: Hope of Chinese easing lifts miners

THE FTSE 100 recovered from a morning wobble to continue building on its all-time highs.

Miners and oil stocks were on the front foot thanks to firming commodity prices and that helped the index outperform against its European peers, which saw profits taken off the table ahead of another crunch meeting of leaders over Greece. The FTSE 100 was up 15.16 points at 7,037.67.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “Resurgent non-ferrous metals prices and hopes that we’ll see an easing of monetary policy from China are playing a part in driving the index higher, with a number of the heavyweight mining stocks finding reasonable gains through the day.”

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On the risers’ board, BHP Billiton added 52p to 1,591p and Glencore was up 7.8p at 307.1p. Royal Dutch Shell climbed 2 per cent or 44p to 2,215p as oil prices made modest gains.

But the biggest blue chip riser was Standard Chartered as JP Morgan became the latest broker to upgrade the Asia-focused bank. The shares were 6.5 per cent higher, up 69.5p to 1,141p, building on gains made last week when a number of other brokers recommended the bank.

But Weir Group was on the other end of analyst sentiment, as RBC Capital Markets dropped the Glasgow-based firm from its “top pick” list. The pumps and valves maker would normally be buoyed by better news from the mining and drilling sectors but instead the shares found themselves 2 per cent lower at 1,801p.

Outside the top flight, transport operator FirstGroup added 4 per cent after it said it had signed an agreement with the Department for Transport to operate the First Great Western rail franchise until April 2019. Shares in the Aberdeen-based company rose 4p to 99p.