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Miners boost Britain’s FTSE to one-week high

Britain’s top share index climbed to its highest level in more than a week on Wednesday, buoyed by a strong rally in mining stocks and encouraging results from companies such as Marks and Spencer (MKS.L).

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE was up 0.8 percent at 6,434.11 points by 1554 GMT after rising to 6,459.46 points, the highest since late October.

The UK mining index .FTNMX1770 surged 2.9 percent, the top sectoral gainer, helped by a rally in metals prices. Trader and miner Glencore (GLEN.L) led the index higher, with its shares rising 7.5 percent after saying it was on track to reduce its debt to $20 billion from $30 billion.

Glencore also plans to boost liquidity with asset sales and to cut copper output further to help lift prices.

“Given how heavily they’ve fallen and then subsequently rallied thereafter, we still think they represent good value alongside some other picks in the mining sector,” said Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers.

Other miners were also up, with Anglo American (AAL.L), BHP Billiton (BLT.L), Antofagasta (ANTO.L) and Rio Tinto (RIO.L) rising 1.9 to 4.1 percent.

British retailer Marks and Spencer (MKS.L) advanced nearly 3 percent after it raised its annual non-food profit margin forecast and beat first-half profit estimates.

“Not the easiest of halves given the weather, but the increased flexibility in M&S’ business model stands out,” analysts at Investec said in a note, reiterating a “buy” rating on the stock.

However, British housebuilders fell, with Berkeley (BKGH.L), Persimmon (PSN.L), Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) and Barratt Developments (BDEV.L) down 2.1 to 3.8 percent. Traders cited concerns over possible interest rate hikes and valuations in the sector.

Among mid-cap stocks, property services company Countrywide (CWD.L) slumped 11 percent after it said that its full-year core earnings would be down 2014. Estate agency Foxtons Group (FOXT.L) was also down, falling 5.6 percent.




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