StockMarketWire.com - FTSE indices closed higher, albeit off earlier peaks, with miners stealing to the fore as spot copper prices surged and traders took a positive view of better-than-expected China economic data. Wall St was confidently ahead, as was Europe. Banks and financials performed well, too.

FTSE 100 closed up 71.58 points, or 1.18%, to 6146.1. FTSE 250 was up 157.76, or 0.94%, to 17,000.3. At 4.43pm, gold was at $1125/oz. Three-month industrial metals were mostly lower. Spot copper rose 5.38% to $243.65/lb. WTI crude fell 0.13% and Brent rose 3.51%.

Glencore (GLEN) led the metals burrowers north with a rise of 4.4% to 137.6p. It was traced by Anglo American (AAL), up 3.87% to 703.9p, and Fresnillo (FRES), up 2.74% to 619p. Banks zipped up behind Standard Chartered (STAN), up 2.84% to 721.35p, and HSBC (HSBA), up 2.06% to 504.2p.

Other financials rising included Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN), up 3.02% to 317.4p, while Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) added 2.39% to 1115p. United Utilities (UU.) was up 1.94% to 868.5p, and then off earlier highs, on chat its valuation might lead to takeover interest. Sector pals also rose, as did several oil majors.

Several retail, pharmas and house builders also firmed. Hikma (HIK), up 0.17% to 2366p, is to acquire 98.09% of the share capital of EIMC United Pharmaceuticals. Whitbread (WTB) fell 1.59% to 4636p despite impoved H1 sales in total and like-for-like terms, with traders concerned that the new national living wage might see prices rise to cover costs.

BIGGER MOVERS

Amlin (AML) surged 32.99% to 655p after MS&AD Insurance Group said it was in talks to buy the group in a £3.5bn deal. SQS (SQS), down 15.79% to 480p issued an H2 profits warning, due to a slump in gross margins, despite otherwise robust interim figures.

Conviviality Retail (CVR) surged 20.97% to 187.5p as trading was restored following M&A-related AIM suspension. Conviviality has agreed to acquire drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark for £200m, a reverse takeover funded with the help of a £130m placing.

Oxford Instruments (OXIG) fell 18.69% to 650.5p as it confirmed a slow start to the current year, with orders and sales down on the year on a constant-currency organic basis. However, orders for June and July were significantly ahead of April and May.

Starcom (STAR) jumped 13.33% to 4.25p as it confirmed a new contact with a major international organisation for its Helios Hybrid tracking system, following an international tender.

Verona Pharma (VRP) fell 10.61% to 4.43p after H1 pretax losses widened 238% to £4.4mdue to higher R&D costs. Cambria Automobiles (CAMB), up 6.52% to 73.5p, as it flagged strong H2 growth and said FY results would beat already-upgraded expectations.

ECONOMIC NEWS

Stateside, the US Labour Market Index for August rose to 2.1, from 1.1 previously, US Federal Reserve said. Across the pond, UK retail spending rose just 0.1% in August, on the year, data from British Retail Consortium showed. In adjusted terms, sales were up 1.4%.

Germany's trade surplus, seasonally adjusted, rose to 22.8bn euros in July, from a revised 22.1bn euros in June, official data showed. The market expected a surplus of 21.8bn euros.

France's government budget balance for July was 79.8bn euros, from a deficit of 58.5bn euros in June. Its trade deficit for July was 2.7bn euros, from a deficit of 2.7bn euros and against an expected -3.2bn euros.

China’s August exports declined 5.5% in August from a year earlier after a 8.3% drop in July, according to the General Administration of Customs, but that was a fair bit better than the 6.6% decline expected by analysts.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Hochschild Mining (HOC), up 9.49% to 71.63p, has announced a significant new discovery at Pallancata and achieves commercial production at Inmaculada. Sefton Resources (SER), up 8.33% to 0.07p, announced it has received communication yesterday regarding a purported requisition for a General Meeting to remove certain directors of the company.

Falkland Islands Holdings (FKL), down 4.81% to 217.5p, said it expected a satisfactory FY trading performance. Ashmore Group (ASHM), up 4.55% to 255.95p, said assets under management fell to $58.9bn in the year to end-June, down from $75.0bn.

Fenner (FENR), up 3.65% to 170.5p, expects group revenue and underlying profit for the year ended Aug. 31 to be in line with forecasts at the time of the trading update on July 22. In other news, Somero (SOM), up 3.61% to 143.5p, saw a 20% rise in H1 revenue to $35m. Pretax profit rose 28% to $8.2m on strong activity levels in North America and the Middle East.

Berkeley (BKG), up 2.22% to 3455p, was on track to deliver an earnings target of £2bn over the next three years. Hilton Food Group (HFG), up 2.92% to 432.25p, has reported strong underlying progress in the 28 weeks to July 12 with operating profits up 1.3% at £13.7m and volumes up 5% at 127,913 tonnes. Turnover fell 2.2% to £579.2m, but after-tax profits rose 0.9% to £10.3m.

Other stocks in the news included DS Smith (SMDS), Galileo Resources (GLR), Edenville Energy (EDL), Redrow (RDW), Betfair (BET), Greene King Retail (GNK), Marimedia (MARI), Falcon Oil & Gas (FALC), KazMunaiGas Exploration Production (KMG) and Vernalis (VER). Story provided by StockMarketWire.com