FTSE 100 slips to snap three-day winning streak; miners support


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A low fog engulfs the skyscrapers of the financial district of Canary Wharf

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By Shivani Kumaresan, Amal S and Shashank Nayar

(Reuters) – The ended lower on Tuesday after investors took a breather after three consecutive sessions of gains, while bets on a vaccine-led economic recovery and a jump in mining stocks helped support the commodity -heavy index.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended down -0.1%, with pharmaceutical and construction stocks leading declines, while most mining stocks were top boosts to the index.

Miners Rio Tinto (LON:), BHP Group and Glencore (LON:) were among the top gainers on the index.

The mid-cap was flat.

“With the general outlook being still largely positive on UK equities, markets have taken a little breather after consistent gains over the past few sessions,” said Michael Baker, an analyst at ETX Capital.

The FTSE 100 has recovered nearly 35% from its March 2020 lows and is now 12% below its peak last year, led by stimulus support, but a surge in infections and lockdowns have recently slowed the pace of gains.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he would plot a cautious but irreversible path out of the COVID-19 lockdown this week after the vaccination of 15 million vulnerable people.

Glencore jumped 2.0% as it reinstated its dividend after its net debt fell by 10% in 2020, helped by surging commodity prices in the second half.

BHP Group rose 1.5% after the miner reported its best first-half profit in seven years and declared a record interim dividend.

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British outsourcer Serco climbed 4.8% and was the second best performer in the midcap index after saying it would buy consulting services provider Whitney, Bradley & Brown Inc from an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital for $295 million to bolster its North American defence business.

Miner Petra Diamonds (LON:) gained 6.1% as its half-year core earnings jumped 20%, although it cautioned that the pandemic might impact its ability to operate within its covenants.

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