FTSE maintains its four-month high despite hit from ex-dividend stocks

BRITAIN’S blue chip share index rose by just a few points yesterday, consolidating around a four-month peak as a slide in a batch of stocks trading without their dividend entitlements offset gains in banking and mining stocks.

Fifteen blue chip stocks traded ex-dividend yesterday including heavyweights Royal Dutch Shell, BP,

AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, and Barclays knocking 25.41 points in total off the FTSE 100.

Standard Chartered, which was also trading ex-dividend, rebounded seven per cent after losing more than 20 per cent over the previous two days after New York’s regulator accused the London-based bank of hiding transactions tied to Iran.

At the close, the UK blue chip index was up just 4.68 points, or 0.1 per cent at 5,845.92, although that was its highest closing level since early April.

The index showed little reaction to the Bank of England’s sharp cut in its medium-term economic growth forecast for Britain in its latest inflation report. The bank said the factors that have dragged on growth since the financial crisis may persist longer than first thought.

Miners were strong performers, led by Rio Tinto, which gained 2.9 per cent after its first-half results came in at the better end of expectations. Rio saw a 34 per cent drop in first-half profit, but said it

was sticking to its $16bn spending plans for the year. Peer Xstrata was also higher, up 1.8 per cent after its well-received first-half results on Tuesday.