LONDON, March 3 Blue-chip British shares edged ahead on Thursday as a set of positive results from Admiral Group and buoyant stocks in the mining sector offset losses from Inmarsat.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent at 6,162.68 points by 1152 GMT, outperforming the broader European market.
Miner Glencore led the gainers, rising 8.5 percent on the back of a series of target price upgrades, while the UK mining sector was up 4.7 percent, hitting its highest point in almost four months.
Anglo American, Antofagasta, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton all gained between 3.7 percent and 5.7 percent, tracking the price of copper which hit a three-month high.
BHP also benefited from a settlement with the Brazilian government following last November’s dam disaster.
Additionally, there were some sharps moves among the smaller mining companies, with mid-cap Vedanta Resources soaring 17.6 percent while small-cap Lonmin vaulted over 21 percent after clarifying its restructuring plans.
“Investors are viewing the streamlining of its business as a good step. It’s also benefiting from a general rebound in the mining sector and in platinum prices. Some of these smaller mining stocks are coming back into vogue after suffering heavy losses last year,” Richard Griffiths, associate director at Berkeley Futures, said.
Insurer Admiral Group was also among the top blue-chip gainers, jumping 6.8 percent and hitting a record high, after posting better-than-expected results.
“If you’re competitive in such a market, it means that you’re perhaps charging people a bit less, but you’re still getting a decent amount of money,” Accendo Markets research analyst, Augustin Eden, said.
Likewise, Irish cement maker CRH and builders’ merchant Travis Perkins rallied 3.9 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, after posting well-received results.
Satellite company Inmarsat, however, was the top FTSE faller, dropping 5.8 percent after it said that it expected tough trading conditions in some of its markets to persist this year.
The company also posted a 3.6-percent rise in core earnings for 2015, and said that the underlying trading environment in 2016 was expected to be broadly similar to that in 2015, when spending by its government customers was weak.
Television and media group ITV extended its losses from the previous session on a smattering of price-target cuts following disappointing guidance for advertising revenue.
“We calculate that Studios organic growth will be negative in 2016 … But most importantly, advertising trends are worse than expected,” Barclays analysts said in a note.
Shares in HSBC, RSA Insurance Group, Persimmon and Hargreaves Lansdown fell after going ex-dividend, taking about 11 points off the index.