Mixed mining shares weigh on FTSE

The blue chip index edged down in early deals after a mixed performance from headline mining shares.

Anglo American was the biggest riser, adding more than three per cent in early deals, despite it posting a sharp drop in 2012 earnings as it was hit by last month’s $4bn write-down on Brazilian project Minas Rio.

"Anglo has made some big inroads since a challenging year and will have to wait and see what new chief executive Cutifani can do," Cailey Barker at Numis said this morning.

"We expect the business to remain challenged by depressed conditions in some of its key commodity divisions and the South African mining industry to remain a tough working environment, meaning many will favour the other lower risk, higher margin major miners."

Fellow miner Kazakhmys rose 0.8 per cent in early deals, while engineer Weir Group was up 1.7 per cent. This morning it announced Charles Berry was to join to the board as a non-exec director.

Mid and small-cap miners also rose on the wider index, with Talvivaara, Avocet Mining and Kenmare Resources all posting gains.

At the other end of the spectrum, precious metal miners Fresnillo and Randgold Resources weighed on the FTSE 100, falling 2.4 and 2.25 per cent respectively.

Chemicals firm Johnson Matthey, which refines and fabricates metals such as platinum, fell 1.8 per cent as it said it expects to suffer a loss of commission income of around £35m after Anglo American Platinum decided not to renew a market development agreement with it.

Outside of the blue chips, Irish food producer Greencore was down 13.5 per cent, as supermarket Asda said it would withdraw its beef products from its shelves.

UK banks had a tough morning. HSBC was down 0.14 per cent, RBS fell 1.09 per cent, Barclays sank 0.74 per cent and Lloyds Banking Group shed 0.58 per cent in early deals.