Defensive stocks help limit FTSE losses

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Defensive stocks underpinned the FTSE 100 on Wednesday and limited wider losses, while IMI’s pledge to return capital to investors after the sale of two businesses helped the manufacturer to the top of the benchmark index.

The Birmingham-based maker of valves used in the energy industry rose 2.3 per cent to £15.32 after it said it would pay £620m back to shareholders after selling two non-core units to Berkshire Hathaway for $1.1bn in cash.

Overall, the FTSE 100 was 16 points weaker at 6,532.78, with oil and telecoms stocks preventing wider losses at sector level.

Among them, BT Group was up 0.4 per cent at 356p and Royal Dutch Shell added 0.6 per cent to £21.56.

Banks and financial stocks remained under pressure. London Stock Exchange fell 1.1 per cent to £16.02 and Royal Bank of Scotland shed 1.3 per cent to 372.3p.

Lower down the market, the run higher for shares in Royal Mail faltered ahead of the results of a closely watched ballot for strike action at the newly privatised company. The shares were down 3.2 per cent to 472.7p.

Hochschild Mining has had a difficult year with the fall in the silver price, but the London-listed Peruvian miner said it was set to end it by meeting its production targets.

In an interim statement for the third quarter to September 30, Hochschild announced production of 5.4m silver equivalent ounces, putting it on track to achieve its 2013 goal of 20m ounces. Shares rose 0.4 per cent to 159.7p.

There were big losses for Anite, the telecoms equipment-testing company, after it said contract delays would reduce half-year revenues by 25 per cent and hit results for the full year. The stock fell 33 per cent to 74.9p.

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