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Miners lift FTSE 100; Dairy Crest, Provident gain on M&A

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FILE PHOTO: A man walks through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo
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By Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi

(Reuters) - Strength in miners on growing optimism over global trade talks helped FTSE 100 inch higher and bid news lifted Dairy Crest and Provident Financial among mid-caps on Friday, while online trading platforms slumped after CMC's surprise revenue alert.

The FTSE 100 crept up 0.2 percent but booked losses for the week. The FTSE 250 also rose by the same amount.

Mining companies climbed to their highest in eight months as falling inventories and optimism around the Sino-U.S. trade talks pushed copper prices higher. Glencore and BHP (BHPB.L) added more than 2 percent each.

Consumer good makers Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser gave up 1.5 percent after U.S. food company Kraft Heinz posted a quarterly loss and highlighted the tough environment for the packaged food industry.

Investors are awaiting any signs of breakthrough in the U.S.-China trade talks, while Britain and the European Union negotiate over a Brexit compromise that could pave the way for an agreeable divorce deal.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said that with a week to go until the March 1 trade deadline, an extension seemed to be the most likely outcome.

"We expect the (UK) market to trade in a relatively narrow and low range of returns as economic data stabilise and central banks remain patient," Goldman Sachs analysts wrote.


Dairy Crest surged 15.3 percent - its biggest one-day gain since it floated in 1996 - after agreeing to be bought out by Canada's Saputo for about 975 million pounds.

Sub-prime lender Provident Financial (PFG.L) also jumped over 15 percent after a takeover offer from smaller rival Non-Standard Finance despite the bid not offering a premium to its closing price on Thursday.

Non-Standard Finance surged 16.3 percent after tabling the unsolicited offer.

"This (NSF's offer) will come as a total surprise to the market ... It will take some time for the market to work through the potential merits of the offer," said Jefferies analysts, who noted PFG shareholders were being asked to accept a nil premium offer for better management.

Online trading platform CMC Markets tanked nearly 23 percent, dragging its rivals Plus500 and IG down by 5 percent, after forecasting a bigger fall in fourth-quarter CFD and spreadbet revenue due to tighter rules by European regulators.

Metro Bank jumped 10 percent after gaining funding as part of Britain's Banking Competition Remedies scheme, which is intended to increase competition among banks.

CYBG shed 5.7 percent, biggest loser on the mid-cap index, after it was turned down for funds under the scheme.

Support services provider Interserve sky-rocketed 52.4 percent after it said it was considering a proposal for its debt reduction from largest shareholder Coltrane Asset Management.

Graphic: Provident lags FTSE 250, rivals (https://tmsnrt.rs/2EpHyfE)

(Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Larry King and David Holmes)