- MIDDAY REPORT: The headline index remained comfortably higher at midday, with upbeat economic data from China giving metals prices and miners a boost and banks rallying on hopes of an equitable EU budget deal.

At midday, the FTSE100 rose 34.83 points at 6,263.25 with the FTSE250 up 54.4 points at 13,355 and the FTSE Smallcaps ahead 11.75 points at 3,671.4.


US stock futures were flatlining today ahead of trade deficit data.

Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 2 points at 13,900, S&P500 futures were little changed at 1,505 and Nasdaq 100 futures ticked up 2 points at 2,744.


Upbeat economic data emanating from China boosted confidence in the global recovery and gave the markets an early boost, while an upgrade to UK construction output for the last quarter of 2012 added to the positive sentiment along with hopes of a cut in the EU budget.

The news from China lifted base metals prices, giving the mining fraternity fresh impetus. Antofagasta climbed 11p at 1,135p, while Anglo American advanced 37p at 1,974p and BHP Billiton gained 10p at 2,165p. Conversely, Randgold Resources slipped 62.5p at 6,057.5p as gold prices continued to weaken.

Industrial pump maker Weir Group jumped 41.5p at 2,119.5p on hopes that the new popularity of fracking will boost demand.

Commercial property group Land Securities surged 16.75p at 815.75p after Barclays Capital upgraded the REIT from equal-weight to overweight.

Banking shares rallied strongly, with Royal Bank of Scotland leading them higher, up 6.65p at 339.55p. Lloyds lifted 0.6p at 52.49p and Barclays improved 5.18p at 297.68p.

However, insurer Old Mutual topped the midday leaderboard, up 5.85p at 191.75p, as investors cheered its recent acquisition of pan-African banking group Ecobank.

Credit checker Experian rose 19.5p at 1,102.5p as UBS upgraded the stock to buy from neutral, raising its target price to 1,300p from 1,040p.

On the downside with blue chips, fund manager Schroders continued to be plagued by profit-taking, off 10p at 1,989p.

Imperial Tobacco was the worst blue chip of the day, easing 28.5p at 2,318.5p when Investec downgraded its recommendation on the cigarette maker to hold from buy after a disappointing Q1 update.

Waste and water company Severn Trent fell 20p at 1,598p on news it has sold its Analytical Services division to Australian testing inspection and certification group ALS.

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