Miners lead FTSE 100 higher toward record in holiday-thinned trade

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U.K. traders returned from the Christmas holidays in an upbeat mood on Wednesday, sending the benchmark stock index higher and setting it on track for a record close.

What is the market doing: The FTSE 100 index












UKX, +0.16%










 rose 0.3% to 7,611.40, rebounding from a 0.2% loss on Friday, which was the last trading session before Christmas.

If the London blue chip index holds it Wednesday gain, it’ll take out its previous all-time closing high reached on Thursday at 7,603.98.

The pound












GBPUSD, +0.2393%










 rose to $1.3389 from $1.3374 late Tuesday in New York.

What’s driving the market: Analysts said the general end-of-year portfolio rebalancing was now kicking in, which could drive trade for the rest of the week.

Mining firms also help to lift the FTSE, tracking positive moves for most metals prices. Only copper












HGH8, -0.44%










 declined, falling 0.5% after straight sessions of gains.

Stock movers: Among miners, shares of Fresnillo PLC












FRES, +2.00%










 rose 2.1%, Randgold Resources Ltd.












RRS, +1.61%











GOLD, +1.19%










 climbed 1.8% and Glencore PLC












GLEN, +1.70%











GLCNF, +0.05%










 added 1.6%.

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Shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC












RDSB, +1.05%











RDS.B, +0.85%










 gained 1% after the oil major said the potential impact from the U.S. tax reform will be favorable to the group. The company also said it expects a charge to its fourth-quarter earnings of $2 billion to $2.5 billion following the changes to in the U.S., driven by a re-measurement of its deferred tax position to reflect the lower corporate income tax rate.



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