Barclays boost for FTSE

Barclays’ £4.5bn (€5.7bn) fundraising announcement boosted the UK banking sector and helped put the London market on the front foot today.

The bank and two rivals were at the top of the FTSE 100 Index risers board after the move to strengthen its balance sheet was welcomed by investors.

With retailers also making up some losses from yesterday and an oil price rise boosting energy stocks, the Footsie was 23.5 points ahead at 5658.2 by mid-morning.

However, trading was somewhat muted ahead of the US Federal Reserve interest rate announcement later today, which is widely expected to be a hold at 2%.

Back in London, Barclays topped the Footsie leader board with a rise of 6%, or 19.5p to 330.25p.

Among the bevy of wealthy overseas investors taking big stakes in the bank are the Qatar Investment Authority and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

Halifax Bank of Scotland, whose shareholders vote on the bank’s own £4bn (€5bn) rights issue tomorrow, was close behind, adding 16.75p to 291.5p. The rise took it well clear of the 275p discounted rights issue price which was breached yesterday. Royal Bank of Scotland also improved 11.5p to 230.75p.

Elsewhere, retail shares were enjoying a rebound after some heavy selling yesterday in the wake of some gloomy market share data for the big supermarket chains.

CBI retail sales figures today showing an improvement in June also helped the sector, with Sainsbury’s and Tesco adding 10.75p to 325.5p and 7.6p to 372.7p respectively.

Next and Kingfisher were also in better shape, with the fashion retailer adding 36.5p to 996p and the B&Q owner up 4.5p to 116.9p.

Oil prices above the 137 US dollar mark buoyed energy majors like BP, up 12.5p to 583.75p and Royal Dutch Shell, which added 19p to 2017p.

In the second tier, transport firm Stagecoach was down more than 5%, or 15.25p to 263.25p, despite unveiling strong growth in its bus and train operations.

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