Renewed fears of a triple-dip recession failed to hold back progress on the London market today as the FTSE 100 Index edged further above the 6,500 barrier.
Blue chips shrugged off worse-than-expected manufacturing figures showing output slid by 1.5% during a snow-hit January, with the FTSE 100 closing seven points higher at 6,510.6.
Lloyds Banking Group was 0.6p higher at 50.6p after it completed the placing of a 20% stake in wealth manager St James’s Place, whose shares dropped back from a recent record high after the placing at £5.10 a share. FTSE 250 Index firm St James’s Place fell 3%, or 17p to 519.5p.
Mining giant Antofagasta was one of the session’s biggest gainers, up 34p at £11.29, after it delivered a one-off special dividend payout to shareholders following a 4.6% rise in underlying earnings to £2.2billion in 2012.
Broker upgrades also ensured leisure groups Intercontinental Hotels and Whitbread earned places on the risers’ board, up 36p to £20.11 and 27p to £26.11 respectively.
British Land was the biggest faller after it unveiled a £500million investor cash-call and the £472million sale of its Ropemaker Place development in London to fund an acquisition warchest. Shares in the property group fell 4%, or 25.5p to £5.55.
Car dealership Inchcape was 2%, or 12p lower at £5.18 in the second tier despite a rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £250.3million, from £227.7million, in 2011.
Barry Shepherd, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted FirstGroup up 1.1% at 199.05p, Xcite Energy gaining 3.8% to 115.625p and Petrofac 4.1% higher at £15.39.
BP shed 0.1% to 452.1p, Amec lost 0.6% at £10.52 and Aggreko was 1.2% lower at £18.86.