Miners offset banks to leave FTSE flat

LONDON’S top shares closed flat yesterday as weakness from banks was offset by an aggressive rebound from mining stocks, helping the index break back through a support level which traders said could herald a buying spree.

The FTSE 100 ended down 2.18 points at 5,923.69, well off the session low of 5,862.16.

“There’s a lot of support for the FTSE around the 5,900 level -- in fact only breached once in 2011 when we had the Japan crisis in the middle of March,” said Ed Woolfitt, head of trading at Galvan Research.

“We see it as a good level to be buying at ready for the run back up,” he said.

Miners dominated the blue-chip leader board, bouncing back from recent lows as buyers came in for the sector, which has hit by falling commodity prices.

Antofagasta was the standout FTSE 100 riser, up 3.8 per cent after a Citigroup upgrade to “hold”, while Rio Tinto and Xstrata, which the broker named its preferred stocks, rose 1.9 and 2.1 per cent respectively.

Kazakhmys, meanwhile, climbed 2.4 per cent after announcing plans to complete a secondary listing in Hong Kong by the end of June, a move that will boost its presence in China - the world’s biggest copper importer.

Banks waned as Eurozone finance ministers met to discuss a bailout package for Portugal and further steps Greece must take to hit deficit reduction targets, although investors were largely taking the meeting in their stride. The meeting was overshadowed by IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest.