StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks firmed in afternoon trading on Wednesday after parliament delayed Boris Johnson's Brexit plans, stoking expectations he could call for national elections.

At 1630, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 48.84 points, or 0.68%, at 7,261.33.

Rio Tinto gained 0.9% to £40.63 after it announced that it would conduct a strategic review of its majority interest in a loss-making aluminium smelter at New Zealand's Tiwai Poin that currently employed around 1,000 people.

Copper play Antofagasta gained 1.1% to 866.8p despite warning that current political unrest in Chile could hurt production volumes of the red metal.

Fellow mining company Fresnillo shed 1.54% to 639.6p on warning that its annual gold and silver production was likely to be at the lower end of guidance following declines in the third quarter.

Centamin, meanwhile, gained 4.4% to 111.75p, despite its gold production falling 17% in the third quarter from the second. The company also stuck to its guidance for the full year.

Outside the mining sector, software company Softcat fell 2.7% to 915.5p, even as it reported a 24% rise in annual profit and declared another special dividend.

Wealth manager Quilter shed 2.2% to 140.95p as it experienced more net outflows from its funds in the third quarter.

Challenger lender Metro Bank closed flat at 193.96 on confirming that chairman and founder Vernon Hill had stood down.

Hill would stay on as a non-executive director until 31 December and had agreed to accept the honorary position of emeritus chairman.

Construction services group Nexus Infrastructure firmed 3.9% to 138.2p as its annual order book grew 17%.

Engineering company PipeHawk gained 14.63% to 4.7p as it swung to a small annual profit after delayed orders started flowing again, though it said Brexit uncertainty was still dogging its business.

Oil minnow Range Resources jumped 13.85% to 0.037p on announcing that it had agreed to sell four drilling rigs and related equipment to Canada's Wilson Energy Services for $3.6m.


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