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Wednesday 20th of August 2008
November 29, 2006

Miners gain as metals prices rise


by Elaine Frei

The London equities markets were higher on Wednesday in reaction to overnight gains in New York and Tokyo, while the pharmaceuticals sector was higher and financial services gained on bids rumors. The FTSE 100 added 0.6 percent to 6,065.3, while the FTSE 250 gained 1.5 percent to 10,659.1.

Miners were up on higher prices for several metals. BHP Billiton added 1.8 percent to 954p, while Xstrata was 2.1 percent higher to £22.49.

In the pharmaceuticals sector, AstraZeneca was up 2.5 percent to £30.03. Shire added 2.7 percent to £10.34 on an upgrade from “neutral” to “overweight” from HSBC, while GlaxoSmithKline gained 3 percent to £13.71. Gains in the sector were helped by news that Swiss pharma group Novartis is thinking of selling its baby food unit, Gerber Products, to Nestle.

Among financial services groups, Prudential was 2.1 percent higher to 660p on rumors that HSBC could be interested, while Legal & General added 3 percent to 154p on talk that Dutch insurer Aegon was thinking of bidding.

In the software sector, Sage added 6.2 percent to 256p on its report that its pre-tax profits were up 14 percent in the quarter. Meanwhile plumber Wolseley gained 3.8 percent to £11.78 even though its fiscal first quarter profits were up only slightly.

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