FTSE in positive territory

The London market overcame recession fears to finish in positive territory today after a late session boost from Wall Street.

The FTSE 100 Index endured a volatile day’s trading that at one stage left it more than 100 points – nearly 3% – lower.

But strong early gains in the US reversed declines to leave the Footsie ahead 46.9 points at 4087.8.

America’s Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 2% in the first few hours of trading as investors rushed to pick up bargains after yesterday’s heavy sell-off.

The Dow lost almost 6% of its value overnight, followed by steep declines across Asia, with the Nikkei down by more than 2%.

And the Footsie also suffered badly yesterday as recession worries came to the fore, shedding more than 4%.

But in London today, oil prices rising off recent 16-month lows – to more than 69 US dollars a barrel today – helped lend support.

Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell saw strong gains, both more than 5% ahead. BP shares rose 22.25p to 465p and Shell added 80p to 1499p.

Heavily-weighted mobile phone giant Vodafone also made advances, which gave the top tier a lift. Its shares rose 5p to 108p.

There was also a modest bounce back for BSkyB after shares hit a 10-year low yesterday on fears that customers will cut back on pay-TV spending. The satellite broadcaster was up 15.75p to 372.25p.

It was a mixed session for financial stocks, with banks and insurers seeing varying fortunes.

Among the banks, Lloyds TSB was higher, ahead 4.5p at 172p, while HSBC also moved 9p up to 805p.

But Barclays languished in the red, by 6.25p to 218.25p, as did HBOS, down 1.9p to 72.8p.

Insurers had been suffering across the board on the back of broker downgrades from HSBC and Panmure Gordon.

Legal & General bucked the trend, closing up 3.8p at 71p at the top of the risers board.

However, Friends Provident and Standard Life remained under pressure, down 4.9p at 65.1p and 6p to 203.75p.

Miners were also big fallers, led by Kazakhmys down 18.75p at 239p.

British Airways fell 9.5p to 138.5p, giving up gains seen yesterday on bid speculation after Cathay Pacific denied rumours it was to bid for the group.

In the FTSE 250, Currys parent DSG International soared 9%, up 2p at 25.5p, despite interim figures revealing a 7% drop in like-for-like sales.

Its shares fell 2.7%, or 42p to 1491p.

Sub-prime consumer lender Cattles was also faring well after it said its application for a banking licence was on track and that trading and bad debts were in-line with management expectations.

Shares in the group, which has been in the spotlight for much of this week, rose 14%, or 4.75p to 39.5p.

The biggest Footsie risers were L&G up 3.8p at 71p, Shell ahead 80p at 1499p, Reckitt Benckiser up 128p at 2557p and BP up 22.25p at 465p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Fresnillo down 21.6p at 115p, Old Mutual off 4.3p at 46.2p, Kazakhmys down 18.75p at 239p and Friends Provident down 4.9p at 65.1p.

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