London's FTSE steady on mixed market news

London (AFP) – London shares ended the day little changed on Wednesday, with investors unimpressed by RSA Insurance’s new rights issue but cheered by Standard Life’s acquisition of a fund management firm.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 0.41 points, or 0.01 percent, up at 6,605.30 points.

Edinburgh-based savings and investment firm Standard Life was the day’s highest climber.

Its shares were up 7.01 percent at 400.0 pence on news of its purchase of Ignis Asset Management, which has offices in Glasgow and London.

Retail investor financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown was the day’s second biggest riser, up 5.33 percent at 1,481.00 pence.

Some analysts expect the firm to benefit from new rules unveiled in last week’s budget allowing savers to put away more cash tax-free, and also for pensioners to take out a lump sum rather than pay annuities.

Those gains were balanced by RSA Insurance, whose shares fell 7.77 percent to 87.8 pence on news it had started to raise 773 million pounds in a rights offering.

Lloyds Banking Group was the day’s second biggest faller, its stock closing 4.94 percent lower at 75.2 pence after the government reduced its holding in the lender by 7.8 percent.

“As details of RSA Insurance Group’s rights issues have hit the market, the shares have remained at the top of the FTSE fallers list, spending most of the day off by some 7 percent,” said IG market analyst Alastair McCaig.

“In contrast, Standard Life’s acquisition of Ignis from Phoenix Holdings has been well received, as this addition to the company’s portfolio has helped push the shares up by over 5.15 percent and set a new high for the year,” he added.

Lloyds’ shares were the most traded by volume with 712 million changing hands, followed by Vodafone Group at 123.5 million.

On the currency markets, sterling firmed both against the dollar and the euro, and traded at $ 1.6568 at 5.21 pm compared to $ 1.6527 on Tuesday, and 1.2009 euros compared to 1.1965 a day earlier.

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