By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) — After a choppy session, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index ended higher for a seventh straight day on Monday with gains for Bunzl PLC and Vodafone Group PLC offsetting weakness in HSBC Holdings PLC after a disappointing earnings report.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.31% gained 0.4% to close at 6,865.86, after swinging between gains and losses for most of the session.
Beijing choking on 'hazardous' air
Beijing's air pollution index has been over 300 for the past five days and its air quality continues to deteriorate.
The broader positive sentiment came after U.S. markets opened in the green, with the S&P 500 scoring an intraday record.
Among notable movers in London, shares of Bunzl PLC /zigman2/quotes/201880362/delayed UK:BNZL -2.16% picked up 6.9% after the distribution and outsourcing company reported an 8% rise in 2013 earnings per share.
Shares of Vodafone Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/202484985/delayed UK:VOD -0.92% /zigman2/quotes/202862751/composite VOD +0.85% rose 3.1% as a share consolidation following the sale of its Verizon Wireless stake became effective.
Adding pressure on the U.K. benchmark, shares of HSBC /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA +2.60% /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC +3.20% /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 -0.97% lost 2.8% after the banking major posted a profit that fell short of expectations. Full-year 2013 pretax profit for the bank rose 9% to $22.56 billion, compared with $20.65 billion a year ago. A consensus forecast of analysts polled by Bloomberg News called for a profit of $24.6 billion.
Shares of RSA Insurance Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/207445981/delayed UK:RSA -0.15% gave up 3.7% after the company scrapped plans to raise emergency funds through a small group of investors and instead will press ahead with a cash call for at least 500 million pounds ($831 million) to be asked of all shareholders, according to The Times.
On a sector basis, mining firms posted some of the biggest losses on renewed concerns about a tightening in the Chinese property market. Stubbornly high property prices have triggered worries that a fresh round of market curbs by Beijing is looming. Adding to those fears, Chinese local media said a medium-sized bank has tightened its financing to property developers because of heightened risk.
Miners are sensitive to China’s construction sector as the country is a major user of natural resources. Shares of Rio Tinto PLC /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO -0.41% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +2.12% /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -3.28% dropped 1.8%, Anglo American PLC /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL +0.92% lost 1.7%, Antofagasta PLC /zigman2/quotes/200173667/delayed UK:ANTO -0.03% fell 2.3%, and BHP Billiton PLC /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +0.49% /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -2.17% gave up 0.5%.
Outside the main index, shares of Dixons Retail PLC jumped 6.7% and Carphone Warehouse Group PLC rallied 8.8% after the two retailers confirmed they are in preliminary discussions about a potential merger.