- MORNING REPORT: Headline shares made solid gains in early deals today, taking a lead from optimistic words from Fed Chairman Ben Bernancke and strong gains in Asia this morning, with financials and miners inspiring early progress in London.

At 9:00am, the FTSE100 was up 43.04 points at 4,893.93 with the FTSE250 ahead 107.48 points at 8,786.31 and the FTSE Smallcaps 18.1 points better at 2,624.39.


In Asia today, the Nikkei surged 342.85 points to 10,581.05, while the Hang Seng was recently ahead 336.92 points at 20,535.94.


The main index headed into a fifth successive day of gains with solid gains, the FTSE100 nudging over 4,900 at one stage, a level not seen for ten months or so.

Miners were well-represented on the leaderboard as metals prices eged ahead, with copper particularly strong, up over 2%.

Kazakhmys and Xstrata were the leading lights in the sector, ahead 44.5p at 971p and 38.5p at 873p, respectively. Antofagasta gained 30.5p at 811p, while Randgold Resources added 44p at 3,559p as gold settled firmly over $950 an ounce.

Oil producers also made firm progress as crude topped $74 a barrel, with Shell ahead 17p at 1,647p, BG Group up 7p at 1,078p and BP 2.35p stronger at 530.15p.

Oil services group Petrofac, meanwhile, dipped a penny at 912.5p, despite reporting net profit for H1 up 20% to $145.6m.

However, it was bankers Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland who took the top two places on the blue chip hit parade, up 5.06p at 106.64p and 2.57p at 51.05p, respectively.

Insurers were well placed, with Amlin the pick of the crop after reporting first-half ROE of 27.4%, up from 20.6% last year. The group recorded a record profit after tax of £167m, up 54.5% in H1.

Amlin shares rose 17.7p at 372.9p, inspriring Aviva into a rise of 9.1p at 419.8p and helping lift Legal & General 1.75p to 79.55p.

Distribution group Bunzl rose 27p at 579p after reporting a 4% rise in interim pretax profits to £115.5m on revenues up 17%.

On the downside with blue chips, security group G4S slumpd to the foot of the ladder, down 8.5p at 215.6p, despite reporting that pretax profit was up 13.4% to £229.8m in the first half-year and raising its interim dividend 10%.

Supermarket operators also displayed weakness, with Tesco down 1.4p at 368.2p, Sainsbury 0.4p lower at 323.4p and Morrisons off 0.7p at 269.1p, while Marks & Spenses slipped 2.2p at 340.7p.

Housebuilders rallied on the back of interim results from Bovis Homes that showed first-half pre-exceptional profit of £1.2m, down from £11.7m last year, the bblow softened by news of a 92% increase in the volume of private home reservations.

Bovis shares gained 14p at 551.5p, while Barratt Developements added 7.8p at 245.1p, Persimmon surged 22.5p to 523.5p and Redrow ticked up 7.4p at 223.4p.

Story provided by Business Financial Newswire