StockMarketWire.com - Weaker sterling kept the FTSE 100 flying high, which was also supported by miners and oil major Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) as risk appetite returned among investors.

Glencore (GLEN) advanced 3.2% to 363.5p and BHP Billiton (BLT) was up 1.8% at £14.03. Peers Anglo American (AAL) and Rio Tinto (RIO) made smaller gains.

Shell enjoyed a 2.2% rise to £23.07.

The FTSE closed 1.5% higher at 6,995.

Brent crude oil was stable at $70 per barrel. Copper was up 0.6% at $2.98 per pound and gold declined 1% to $1,341 per ounce.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

Wall Street was flat on Tuesday with the exception of the Dow Jones, which rose 0.7% to 24,366 around 4:45pm UK time.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Pharma colossus GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) received a 4.9% boost to £13.51 after agreeing to buy Novartis' 36.5% stake in their consumer healthcare business for $13bn.

Higher sales and profit at building materials distributor Ferguson (FERG) lifted the shares 6.7% to £54.78. The company also proposed a special dividend of $4 per share on top of a 10% hike in the interim dividend.

UK train and bus operator Stagecoach (SGC) reversed 1.2% to 129.6p after like-for-like sales growth in the bus divisions and North American operations declined.

IG (IGG) was broadly unmoved at 820p despite announcing sales over the next two years will be lower than expected due to the impact of regulatory changes in the UK and EU.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Shares in accounting software specialist FreeAgent (FREE) catapulted 81.4% to 117p on a takeover offer from high street bank Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Video games seller Game Digital (GMD) levelled up following a strong outlook and news its core consoles market grew at a faster rate compared to the second half of last year. Its shares soared 25.1% to 30.04p.

Men's formalwear specialist Moss Bros (MOSB) decided to cut its final dividend following a 6.1% fall in pre-tax profit in the year to 27 January. The company blamed poor footfall in December and stock shortages from consolidating suppliers. The stock shed 3.7% to 45p.

McKay Securities (MCKS) agreed to pre-let 30 Lombard Street in London to wealth manager St James's Place (STJ). The real estate investment company is expected to benefit from a 14% rise in rental income from the deal, helping the shares advance 10.9% to 275p.

Chippenham-based Alliance Pharma (APH) delivered a strong organic performance, driven by sales growth from products under its International Star brand, Kelo-cote and MacuShield. Its shares gained 3.6% to 69p.


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