FTSE 100 treads water as investors sit on their hands

UK equities steadied near four-month highs yesterday and technical resistance levels kept a lid on gains with investors unwilling to push the market further pending harder evidence that policymakers will deliver more long-awaited stimulus.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed flat at 5,834.51 , around 50 points below an intra-day peak hit on Tuesday.

Volumes on the benchmark index remained subdued, at 70 per cent of the 90-day average. Traders described recent activity levels as “dire”, with Monday seeing the lowest daily activity in 13 years outside of the traditionally quiet year-end.

Miners shone against the broad market, bolstered by expectations for more merger and acquisition activity in the sector on news that China’s largest gold producer is in talks to buy a stake in African Barrick Gold. African Barrick Gold shares rose eight per cent, topping the FTSE 250 gainers board, with volumes approaching five times of their daily average by mid-session. Blue chip precious metal miners also benefited, with Polymetal, Randgold Resources and Fresnillo up 1.2 to 1.5 per cent. Deutsche Bank said this could cause a re-rating of the mid-tier gold sector miners.