Chilean miner Antofagasta raced to the top of the leaderboard today after it reported a record year of copper production for 2013, supported by a strong output performance in the fourth quarter and despite predictions 2014 production is set to drop. The stock was helped even higher after analysts at Westhouse Securities described the production report as "strong".
Anglo American was similarly higher on the back of a positive fourth quarter report, which showed an increase in iron ore, copper, nickel and thermal coal production. Output from the company's South African-focused business Kumba Iron Ore increased 25% to 11.3m tonnes as a 39% jump in production at the Sishen mine offset a 2% fall at the Kolomela mine.
Also higher was sector peer Randgold Resources following Chief Executive Mark Bristow's announcement that the company's Loulo-Gounkoto gold mine in Mali is likely to beat its revised production target for 2013. Bristow also said the group was delivering on each of its operational objectives. Gold futures are also grinding higher, perhaps due to the uncertainty in markets.
Fellow miners, particularly Fresnillo and Rio Tinto, were also putting in a solid performance.
Old Mutual investors appeared to be unimpressed by the company's plan to increase the share of its profits generated in Africa from 10 to 15% by the end of 2015. Speaking in Nairobi, the financial group's Chief Executive, Julian Roberts, predicted that "the growth area in the world is going to be in Africa over the next 30 years", adding that as that happens, "people will need more financial services". South Africa's central bank today carried out an unexpected rate increase.
United Utilities and Severn Trent both fell following the decision by ratings agency Fitch to lower its outlook on the credit rating of UK water companies from 'stable' to 'negative' following the release of public regulator Ofwat's price review for the fiscal years running from 2015 to 2020 earlier this week.
Supermarket group Sainsbury was also lower after announcing that Chief Executive King would be stepping down in the summer. King, widely regarded as having revived the chain's fortunes in his 10 years in charge, will be succeeded by Group Commercial Director Mike Coupe.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 873.00p +6.14%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,396.50p +3.94%
Fresnillo (FRES) 780.50p +3.93%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,203.00p +2.39%
Royal Mail (RMG) 588.50p +1.73%
Weir Group (WEIR) 2,132.00p +1.09%
TUI Travel (TT.) 421.60p +0.86%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 776.00p +0.39%
Amec (AMEC) 1,042.00p +0.39%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,223.00p +0.31%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Old Mutual (OML) 174.00p -3.39%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,626.00p -3.39%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 715.00p -2.99%
William Hill (WMH) 331.50p -2.79%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 348.70p -2.24%
Prudential (PRU) 1,246.00p -2.20%
SABMiller (SAB) 2,794.00p -2.07%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 849.50p -2.02%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 870.00p -1.92%
BAE Systems (BA.) 429.30p -1.83%