Miners give support as they rise to recoup their losses

<div>MINERS were the saviour of the FTSE 100 yesterday, offsetting falling oil stocks and disappointing UK industrial output data to keep the index flat, or just 7.91 points lower, at 4,187.<br /><br />Data showed that UK manufacturing output unexpectedly shrank in May, falling 0.5 per cent on the month, making it less likely the economy returned to growth in the second quarter.<br /><br />Oil issues were mostly lower after an earlier bounce by crude was snuffed out. <strong>BP</strong> held on to gains of 0.2 per cent, but <strong>BG Group</strong>, <strong>Royal Dutch Shell </strong>and <strong>Cairn Energy</strong> fell between 0.3 to 1.3 per cent.<br /><br />Miners, however, provided a prop for the index, reversing recent losses against a backdrop of stabilising metals prices and sector consolidation hopes.<br /><br />Traders noted speculation that a capital-raising by Brazilian group Vale might be used for a tie-up with <strong>Xstrata</strong> to help in its battle to take over Anglo American. Last year Vale called off plans to take over Xstrata.<br /><br />Xstrata gained 1.4 per cent, while <strong>Anglo American</strong> slipped 0.1 per cent, with <strong>Eurasian Natural Resources</strong>, <strong>Rio Tinto</strong>, <strong>Antofagasta</strong>, <strong>Vedanta Resources</strong> and Kazakhmys up 1.7 to 2 per cent.<br /><br />Banks were mixed, with <strong>Barclays </strong>and <strong>Standard Chartered </strong>extending Monday&rsquo;s sector rally, adding 1.1 and 1.8 per cent, respectively. Standard Chartered was helped by an upgrade from Goldman Sachs to &ldquo;buy&rdquo; from &ldquo;neutral&rdquo;.<br /><br />But <strong>Lloyds Banking Group</strong>, <strong>Royal Bank of Scotland</strong> and <strong>HSBC</strong> shed 0.2 to 2.4 per cent.<br /><br />Defensive stocks were mixed as caution over economic recovery hopes was balanced by the return of some risk appetite for miners and banks.<br /><br />Drugmakers <strong>AstraZeneca </strong>and <strong>Shire</strong> found support, up 0.9 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.<br /><br />Shire said late yesterday afternoon that it had filed a treatment protocol for its Velaglucerase Alfa drug for Gaucher disease and was working with the US Food &amp; Drug Administration to file a new drug application as early as possible.<br /><br />Food retailers <strong>Tesco</strong> and <strong>Wm Morrison</strong> put on 0.5 and 1.1 per cent, with Morrison supported by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch advising investors to buy the stock.<br /><br />But other defensive stocks saw their attractions fade, notably utilities, with <strong>United Utilities</strong>, <strong>Pennon Group</strong> and Severn Trent losing 1.5 to 2.6 per cent.<br /><br />Food producers and tobaccos were also weak, with <strong>AB Foods</strong> and <strong>Cadbury</strong>&nbsp;off&nbsp;1.8 and 1 per cent, while <strong>British American Tobacco</strong> and <strong>Imperial Tobacco</strong> shed 1.5 and 1 per cent.<br /><br />Mobile telecoms heavyweight <strong>Vodafone </strong>was also a big drag on the blue chips, losing 1 per cent.<br /><br />Among second-tier stocks, housebuilders stood out after Persimmon said it did not expect any further land writedowns. <strong>Persimmon</strong>,<strong> Barratt Developments</strong>, <strong>Bovis Homes&nbsp;</strong>and <strong>Bellway</strong> gained 4 to 7.4 per cent.</div>