Miners fuel FTSE gains

The FTSE 100 was in positive territory in early trading with resilient miners lifting the index despite fears over slowing growth in China

Investors were more upbeat after markets were also buffeted last week by fears over Eurozone debt, with eyes focusing on Spain and Italy.

However sentiment toward banking stocks remained tepid this morning and that put the brakes on any significant gains on the blue chip index.

International Power, up 3.2 per cent, was the highest riser after it was confirmed that GDF Suez had agreed a £6.8bn deal to buy the 30 per cent of the company it did not own.

Citigroup upgraded the mining sector helping to fuel rises.

Vedanta was the highest climbing miner, up 1.6 per cent, with Rio Tinto edging up by 1.4 per cent.

Rio was buoyed by reports that KKR may be preparing a bid for its diamond business.

Other climbers included Tullow Oil, up 1.4 per cent, and iPhone chipmaker Arm Holdings, 1.7 per cent.

Oil services company Amec also gained after it said its first quarter trading was in line with expectations.

On the downside Lloyds, Barclays and RBS were three of the biggest losers on the FTSE 100 in early trading.

Lloyds was down 2.7 per cent after reports that Co-Op was poised to pull out of a deal to buy hundreds of the bank's high street branches.

Barclays was off by 1.5 per cent after it admitted a second serious error connected to the sale of interest rate swaps as the bank fights claims that it mis-sold hedging products to small and medium-sized business customers.

Meanwhile RBS was off by 1.6 per cent, in a bleak start to the week for the banking sector.

Another loser was hedge fund giant Man Group, also nudging down by 1.6 per cent.

Across the Atlantic monthly retail sales and New York Federal Reserve manufacturing data are both due for release.

In Asia the Nikkei closed down 1.7 per cent and the Hang Seng 0.4 per cent.

The drops came as profit-warnings were issued by a string of Chinese companies.