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FTSE heads higher as miners recover

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By Reuters
FTSE heads higher as miners recover

By Kit Rees

LONDON (Reuters) – The UK’s top share index edged higher on Thursday, led by a strong rise across beaten-down mining stocks while a still-depressed pound propped up shares in international earners.

The blue chip FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was up 0.6 percent at 7,539.00 points by 0855 GMT, while mid caps <.FTMC> also rose 0.6 percent.

Anxiety over a currency crisis in Turkey has rattled markets over the past week, though positive developments in the U.S.-China trade dispute calmed nerves on Thursday with broader European markets trading in positive territory.

China’s commerce ministry said a fresh round of trade talks will be held with the U.S. in August, boosting base metals prices and in turn lifting shares in heavyweight UK miners.

“Investors will be very relieved there isn’t a continuation of yesterday’s market slump,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

Shares in Antofagasta <ANTO.L>, Glencore <GLEN.L>, Fresnillo <FRES.L>, Rio Tinto <RIO.L. and BHP Billiton <BLT.L> all rose between 1.3 and 1.9 percent.

The FTSE 350 mining index <.FTNMX1770> bounced back 1.5 percent having dropped almost 5 percent in the previous session to a four-month low.

Big, dollar-earning consumer staples stocks also gave a boost to the index as sterling traded close to 2018 lows, though the currency was modestly higher on the day. Shares in British American Tobacco <BATS.L>, Imperial Brands <IMB.L> and Unilever <ULVR.L> were all in positive territory.

Elsewhere it was a heavy day for stocks trading ex-dividend, with Evraz <EVRE.L>, Legal & General <LGEN.L> and Lloyds <LLOY.L> among the biggest fallers.

Shares in Kingfisher <KGF.L> were down 1.7 percent after Europe’s second-largest home improvement retailer said sales rose thanks to prolonged warm weather, but a weak performance at French business Castorama clouded its outlook. [nL5N1V71F8]

“The longer-term picture for Kingfisher is tough, with a slowing housing market and few (home) movers affecting sales at its stores,” Ed Monk, associate director at Fidelity Personal Investing’s share dealing service, said.

Results were also in focus among mid-cap stocks. Shares in online travel agent On The Beach <OTB.L> jumped more than 12 percent after a trading update, while a half-year earnings report helped Kaz Minerals <KAZ.L> shares gain 7.2 percent.

(Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by David Holmes)