With resource stocks looking tired after their lead position in the main London index’s march to a five-week high, it was left to insurers and fund managers to prevent overall losses.
Resolution was the best single riser, up 2 per cent at 314.2p. Aberdeen Asset Management was in second place, up 1.7 per cent at 414.2p. Prudential was 1.4 per cent stronger at £11.25, while Standard Chartered was the best-performing bank, up 1.2 per cent at £15.35.
Miners were knocked by profit-taking. Fresnillo, which bounced higher on Thursday, slipped back 4.2 per cent to 976.5p, the biggest single loss.
Commodities trader and miner Glencore Xstrata was 2.1 per cent higher at 260.8p.
Overall, the FTSE 100 is 0.2 per cent higher at 6,555.99, a rise of 13 points.
Shares in Invensys opened above the 505p-per-share price of the cash-and-stock offer from Schneider Electric, which it confirmed receiving last night.
But stock in the mid-cap engineer failed to hold above that level, and settled just short of the price, up 14 per cent at 504p. Nonetheless, it is the best gainer on the FTSE 250.
Phoenix Group is also among the biggest gainers on the mid-cap index after the life assurer confirmed it was in preliminary talks about merging with a division of bigger rival Swiss Re.
Shares in Phoenix were up 4.1 per cent to 678.7p after it said it was in discussions to combine with Swiss Re’s Admin Re business unit. Shares in Swiss Re were up 0.49 per cent to SFr72.25.
Phoenix, which said there was no certainty the talks would lead to a deal, was forced into a financial restructuring in 2009. It makes money by buying life insurers that are closed to new customers and running them more efficiently.
London’s second-tier index is up 0.2 per cent at 14,673.99.