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Insurer recovery and China hopes boost FTSE

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Insurer recovery and China hopes boost FTSE

The FTSE was up this morning amid persistent hopes of fresh China stimulus action and a continued recovery from insurance company shares after the battering they suffered on Friday.

Insurers and miners helped push the FTSE up 24.8 points, or 0.4%, to 6,640 points. The City regulator this morning published further details about its review of insurers' historic pensions and investment business, taking a softer line than had featured in a report about the plans in the Telegraph on Friday.

That report had prompted a plunge in insurer share prices, calmed only when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published further details (see p35 of its Business Plan) of its plans six-and-a-half hours after the sell-off had begun.

The episode has left insurers furious with the FCA, with senior sources at four of Britain's top insurers telling the Sunday Times they believe chief executive Martin Wheatley's position is now untenable. The FCA board is appointing an external law firm to conduct an investigation into the debacle.

Insurers continued their recovery this morning, with Resolution (RSL.L), a buyer of old life insurers and the worst hit of the FTSE 100 insurance stocks on Friday, up 7.2p, or 2.4% at 303.6p. Smaller peers Phoenix (PHNX.L) and Chesnara (CSN.L), members of the FTSE 250 and SmallCap indexes respectively, rose 4.8% and 3.2% at 683.5p and 304.1p respectively.

Aviva (AV.L) gained 7.6p, or 1.6%, at 477.8p, while Legal & General (LGEN.L) advanced 2.3p, or 1.1%, at 207.1p. Prudential (PRU.L), Old Mutual (OML.L) and Standard Life (SL.L) traded 0.7%, 0.5% and 0.1% at £12.89, £12.61 and 201.4p higher respectively.

Miners also featured among the top risers amid expectations they will benefit from further stimulus measures undertaken by top metals consumer China:

  • Rio Tinto (RIO.L), up 81.5p, or 2.5%, to £33.61
  • Anglo American (AAL.L), up 32.5p, or 2.2%, at £15.42
  • Fresnillo (FRES.L), up 13.5p, or 1.6%, at 862.8p
  • Antofagasta (ANTO.L), up 9.5p, or 1.1%, at 851p
  • Randgold (RRS.L), up 54p, or 1.2%, at £45.88
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