The FTSE 100 managed to hold on to recent gains on Tuesday morning as traders shrugged off some disappointing domestic economic figures.
London's benchmark is continuing to hover around the 6,500 mark, a level not seen since late 2007 before the financial crisis sparked a sell-off in financial markets worldwide.
UK production data disappoints
British industrial production fell at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.2% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics, much worse than the 0.1% decline expected by analysts. Meanwhile, manufacturing output was even weaker, contracting at a 1.5% pace (consensus forecast: -0.3%).
"The weakness in the official data reinforces the subdued picture painted by the manufacturing PMI [purchasing managers' index] survey for the first two months of 2013," said analyst Blerina Uruçi from Barclays Resarch.
"In addition, the sharp drop in the PMI for February suggests we could see some further deterioration in the coming months. Overall, despite the sharper-than-expected drop in January we see these data in line with our view that the weakness we saw in Q4 2012 is likely to continue into the start of this year and for a measured recovery in industrial production to emerge only from Q2 onwards."
The pound slumped to a new two-and-a-half-year low against the dollar
this morning after the data, trading at 1.4831. By midday, it had recovered to 1.4873, still down 0.28% on the day.
On the other hand, UK trade data beat expectations today as imports fell more than exports. The trade deficit narrowed slightly from an upwardly revised £8.7bn in December to £8.2bn in January, better than the £9.0bn consensus forecast.
Supporting stocks this morning was a healthy T-bill auction in Spain today as Madrid sold more debt than expected at lower costs thanks to increased demand. Yields on the secondary market were down four basis points at 4.73% following the auction which saw Spain sell off €5.83bn of short-term debt, above the €4.5-5.5bn target.
FTSE 100: Antofagasta jumps after strong year
Copper miner Antofagasta was a high riser after unveiling a 10.9% rise in revenues in 2012, helped by a year of record production. Revenues reached $6.74bn, beating the $6.5bn forecast from Investec.
Airline group IAG was flying higher after reports that it is close to sealing a deal with labour unions in Spain to avert industrial action at its Iberia unit. The company has agreed to scale down its proposed job cuts. Meanwhile, technical analysts have pointed out that the stock is approaching technical resistance between the 255-260p level.
Hotels operator IHG also gained after UBS raised its recommendation for the shares
from 'sell' to 'neutral' and substantially lifted its target price from 1,300p to 2,100p, labelling the business a "high-quality structural story".
UK banking group Lloyds was higher after trimming its holding in wealth management outfit St James's Place via a placing in an effort to strengthen its capital cushion. Investec upgraded its rating for the stock this morning from 'sell' to 'hold'.
Heading the other way was precious metals miner Fresnillo after reporting that profit contracted by 19% last year due to lower silver prices and grades, and higher depreciation and exploration expenses.
Real estate group British Land saw shares fall after announcing its plan to raise £500bn through a placing to fund investment opportunities. The company also said that it has sold Ropemaker Place in London for £472m.
FTSE 250: Kenmare and IG Group provide a lift
Kenmare Resources, operator of the Moma titanium minerals mine in Mozambique, jumped after unveiling a surge in profits and revenues for 2012.
Interdealer broker IG Group rose strongly after beating its own guidance in the third quarter, helped by volatile financial markets over the past few months.
Translation and communications software firm SDL slumped after saying a weak performance in technology and underinvestment in the company hurt its full-year performance.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,150.00p +5.02%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 255.50p +4.07%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 538.00p +3.36%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,515.00p +2.43%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 2,018.00p +2.18%
BAE Systems (BA.) 376.80p +2.06%
Schroders (SDR) 2,163.00p +1.93%
TUI Travel (TT.) 316.60p +1.77%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 306.20p +1.63%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,399.00p +1.52%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
British Land Co (BLND) 558.50p -3.79%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,459.00p -2.08%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,883.00p -1.36%
Hammerson (HMSO) 512.50p -1.16%
Serco Group (SRP) 627.00p -0.95%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,806.00p -0.88%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,600.00p -0.77%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 718.00p -0.76%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,043.00p -0.76%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,349.00p -0.74%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 34.00p +8.63%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 559.00p +7.09%
Anite (AIE) 135.90p +4.54%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 33.44p +4.17%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 1,509.00p +3.64%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,425.00p +2.37%
SIG (SHI) 152.30p +2.15%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 219.70p +2.14%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.99 +2.13%
Supergroup (SGP) 613.00p +2.00%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
SDL (SDL) 440.00p -11.84%
Ophir Energy (OPHR) 434.10p -3.53%
Raven Russia Ltd (RUS) 72.80p -2.87%
St James's Place (STJ) 522.00p -2.70%
Chemring Group (CHG) 265.40p -1.81%
WH Smith (SMWH) 720.50p -1.71%
Inchcape (INCH) 521.00p -1.70%
Devro (DVO) 340.00p -1.31%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 765.00p -1.29%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 349.50p -1.27%