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Miners and Vodafone help FTSE 100 book gains as Carphone goes it alone

BRITAIN’S top share index ended 0.1 per cent higher yesterday as gains in miners on the back of firmer metals prices and a stronger Vodafone outpaced falls in banking stocks.

The FTSE 100 closed 7.64 points higher at 5,710.66 after falling 0.4 per cent on Friday. The index has gained more than 12 per cent since its year-low on Feb. 8.

Miners were the top gainers on the index, with Rio Tinto, Xstrata, Lonmin, Kazakhmys and BHP Billiton rising between 1.2 and 3.2 per cent.

Vodafone was the top gainer, up three per cent, supported by a report in the Sunday Telegraph that it is in discussions with US counterpart Verizon Communications over a possible dividend payment from Verizon Wireless, a US mobile phone joint venture between the two companies.

Selected defensive stocks like tobacco companies, supermarkets, utilities and beverage producers were on the front foot.

British American Tobacco, SABMiller, Tesco and United Utilities added 0.2 to 1.7 per cent.

State-backed Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland fell 1.3 and 1.8 per cent respectively.

Citigroup fell 2.6 per cent as the US Treasury pledged to sell all of its 7.7bn Citigroup common shares in 2010, signalling a wind-down of the banking giant’s bailout at a potential profit for the government.

Cable & Wireless Communications fell 1.3 per cent after Nomura cut the company’s rating following Friday’s demerger of Cable & Wireless Worldwide. C&W Communications will be demoted to the FTSE 250 on 30 April.

Also on the demerger front, mid-cap Carphone Warehouse added 7.3 per cent after it spun off its TalkTalk unit. TalkTalk added 4.4 per cent.