* FTSE 100 up 0.7 pct at midday
* Oils, miners provide strength on commodity price rises
* Banks, property issues rally helped by Bolton comments
LONDON, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Britain’s leading share index was up 0.7 percent at midday supported by gains in commodity issues and expectations for opening gains on Wall street on hopes of a government lifeline for the struggling U.S. auto industry.
By 1146 GMT, the FTSE 100 .FTSE was up 31.90 points, or 0.7 percent at 4,312.25, below an earlier peak of 4,340.70. The UK blue chip index gained 5.7 percent last week but is still down nearly 33 percent for the year.
“There is not a lot going on today,” said Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at broker Hargreaves Landsdowne, “with investors having a raft of economic data to look ahead to later this week, notably UK inflation numbers”.
"There is also a bit of a drag from the Madoff situation," Hunter added, referring to Wall Street trader Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion fraud, "which has taken a bit of the glean off the market." Energy stocks rose along with firmer crude prices CLc1, up over $2 a barrel ahead of this week's OPEC meeting, with the cartel widely expected to sanction production cuts.
BP BP.L advanced 1.9 percent, Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L put on 1.6 percent, BG Group BG.L climbed 3.7 percent, Cairn Energy CNE.L added 5.1 percent.
Stronger metal prices also boosted heavyweight miners, with Eurasian Natural Resources ENRC.L, Xstrata XTA.L, Kazakhmys KAZ.L, Rio Tinto RIO.L and BHP Billiton BLT.L up between 3.3 and 5.5 percent.
Rio described as speculation a newspaper report claiming it was talking to banking advisers about a potential $9 billion rights issue in the first half of next year. [ID:nLN571252] U.S stocks were expected to open lower Monday after strong gains Friday on hopes for a rescue deal for the auto industry.
BANKS, PROPERTY RALLY
Banks and property stocks rallied. Fidelity International’s Anthony Bolton told investors in an interview in the Sunday Times to prepare for an equities market rally led by banking and property shares in early 2009.
HBOS HBOS.L, Barclays BARC.L, Royal Bank of Scotland RBS.L, Lloyds TSB LLOY.L and Standard Chartered STAN.L all put on 1.4 to 12.4 percent.
HSBC HSBA.L, however, shed 2.5 percent after the Financial Times reported that HSBC had emerged as one of the largest victims of the alleged Madoff fraud, with potential exposure of about $1 billion.
HSBC could not immediately be reached for comment.
British Land BLND.L up 4.9 percent, Hammerson HMSO.L ahead 4.5 percent, Land Securities LAND.L up 2.3 percent, and Liberty international LII.L ahead 4.1 percent.
The Daily Telegraph said Liberty was examining fundraising options including a rights issue to bolster its balance sheet.
The economic picture in the UK remained grim. A survey by property Web site Rightmove said asking prices for homes in Britain fell in December to stand more than 10 percent below May’s peak. [ID:nLC673114]
The chief executive of Barclays also said UK house prices were likely to fall between 10 to 15 percent next year and the unemployment rate may top 7 percent. [ID:nLM11863] ( Editing by Hans Peters)
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