24 November 2005, 17:26  Pound buoyed by hawkish talk

London equities reversed early gains on Thursday as losses for real estate developer British Land and banking group HBOS outweighed a buoyant mining sector. The FTSE 100 fell 23.3 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 5,508.4 while the mid-cap FTSE 250 fell 15.5 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 8,291.0.Shares in British Land , which have risen 10 per cent in the last month, fell 3.4 per cent to 992p as investors booked profits following its first-half results. The property group reported net asset value for the period, the measure used by analysts and investors to gauge the performance of property companies, up 11.3 per cent to 1256p. Banking group HBOS fell 1.3 per cent to 885p on news that it may be considering a bid for St. George, Australia’s fifth-largest lender. The mining sector was stronger as firmer metals prices prompted a rally by Australian mining stocks overnight. BHP Billiton added 1.4 per cent to 887p while Rio Tinto firmed 0.3 per cent at ?23.91 and Anglo American was 0.8 per cent higher at ?18.66. Halfords Group was 6.6 per cent stronger at 321p after it announced a 20.6 per cent increase in first-half pre-tax profit to ?40.4m and an interim dividend of 4p per share.

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