Surge in commodity stocks fails to keep FTSE afloat
COMMODITY stocks have surged ahead on the London market, buoyed by the weakening dollar and a rebound in the price of oil.
Mining giant Anglo American led the charge, rising 37.9p to 585.1p, as Brent crude lifted 1.9 per cent to US$42.75 a barrel after falling earlier in the session.
But the FTSE 100 Index edged down 4.3 points to 6200.1 as shares in house builders took a tumble amid growing gloom over the UK economy and a slowdown in London's high-end property market.
Berkeley Group was the biggest faller, dropping 124p to 3000p, while Taylor Wimpey also weighed heavy on the market, slipping 6.4p to 179.8p.
In Europe, Germany's Dax was up 0.63 per cent and the Cac 40 in France rose 0.22 per cent.
The pound was also up 0.8 per cent against the dollar to 1.424, with the US currency weakening to its lowest level against the Japanese yen since October 2014.
Sterling was also up 0.8 per cent against the euro at 1.24.
In stocks, blue-chip miners dominated the biggest risers as a fall in the value of the US dollar made commodities cheaper to import.
Stocks were also lifted by speculation that demand from China could rise, with Glencore stepping up 4.7p to 141.5p and Fresnillo rising 28p to 961p.
Supermarket giant Tesco saw its share price climb ahead of full-year results tomorrow, as investors expect progress to be made on its turnaround plan.
The City expects the UK's largest supermarket to reveal underlying full-year pre-tax profits down 3 per cent to £932 million, a vast improvement on the 68 per cent fall it reported a year ago.
Shares were up 2.9p to 193.5p.
Shares in telecoms giant BT rose after UK watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urged European regulators to effectively block the £10.3 billion merger of mobile phone networks Three and O2.
The company saw its value rise 3.7p to 441.2p after the CMA said it had written to the European Commission to say the merger would be a "significant impediment to effective competition" in the UK mobile phone market.
Away from the top tier, the owner of the Daily Mail and the Mail On Sunday newspaper saw its share price come under pressure as it mulls a bid for US internet firm Yahoo.
Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) saw shares fall 4.5p to 691p, as it is understood to be in talks with a number of private equity firms about making an offer for Yahoo, which has put itself up for sale amid falling profits and shareholder pressure.
Sausage maker Cranswick saw its value soar after it announced a £40m deal for an East Anglian chicken producer.
The FTSE 250 firm has snapped up Crown Chicken as it ramps up plans to expand its reach outside the pork business.
Crown – and its subsidiary Crown Chicken Limited – breeds, rears and processes fresh chicken for grocers and manufacturers across the UK.
Cranswick's decision to bolster its poultry business comes after it bought premium cooked chicken producer Benson Park in October 2014.
Shares were up 16.4 per cent or 357p to 2538p.
The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Anglo American up 37.9p to 585.1p, Glencore up 4.7p to 141.5p, Fresnillo up 28p to 961p, and BHP Billiton up 17.7p to 778.2p
The biggest fallers were Berkeley Group down 124p to 3000p, Taylor Wimpey down 6.4p to 179.8p, Persimmon down 69p to 1995p, and Barratt Developments down 13p to 534p.