Metal prices bounced back on Friday, helping the mining sector rise throughout the morning. Fresnillo (FRES) enjoyed gains of 2% to £14.02 and BHP Billiton (BLT) rose 1.2% to £16.15. Housebuilders were also in positive territory, led higher by Persimmon (PSN) and Berkeley (BKG). The FTSE was 0.3% higher at 7,725 around midday. Retail sales fell 1.5% in December from the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics. Brent crude oil was down 0.7% to $68.84 per barrel and gold gained 0.3% to $1,330 per ounce. MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Funeral services provider Dignity (DTY) crashed 49% to 978p on a warning that profits would be substantially behind forecasts. The company plans to cut prices to protect its market share. Insurer Esure (ESUR) forecast between a 30% and 35% rise in annual pre-tax profit and announced that chief executive Stuart Vann had stepped down. The stock accelerated 0.6% to 246.6p High street bank HSBC (HSBA) announced it will pay $101.5m in penalties to resolve a US investigation into currency rate manipulation. The stock nudged 0.3% lower to 786.1p. AstraZeneca (AZN) received a small 1.2% boost to £50.43 following approvals in Japan for some of its asthma and ovarian cancer treatments. SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS Carpet retailer Carpetright (CPR) revealed its second profit warning in two months as Christmas trading disappointed. Investors were concerned about the company's outlook as the shares plummeted 43.5% to 92.9p. It was also a difficult Christmas for Bonmarche (BON). The mature clothing retailer suffered a 23% fall to 97.4p after sales in the 13 weeks to 30 December declined 5.5%. Global Petroleum (GBP) said it is farming out its Namibian interests, causing the shares to surge 3.9% to 2.4p. Tonic water maker Fevertree (FEVR) fizzed 10.8% to £24.07 as the market was excited about takeover rumours in The Telegraph linking Unilever (ULVR) with a bid.
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