FTSE on the up on foot of results and oil prices

Positive first quarter results and the impact of high oil prices on energy firms meant the London market resumed its upward path today.

Cigarette companies Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco featured on the risers board after the latter firm said it had made a “great start” to the year with first quarter profits up 18%.

The FTSE 100 Index, which ended the session marginally lower last night, rose 38.2 points to 6253.4 by mid-morning.

A recovery for ailing housebuilders also helped the mood, with top flight construction firm Persimmon ahead 25p at 613.5p and second-tier rival Barratt Developments 14p higher at 281.5p.

With oil prices now established above 120 US dollars a barrel, prospector Cairn Energy lifted 109p to 3332p and BP added 12p to 622p.

Fears over rising overheads has weighed on airlines in recent sessions, although British Airways and easyJet both held firm today after defiant comments from the low-cost airline.

EasyJet said it was well-placed to cope with high oil prices, even though it posted wider half-year losses today. Shares were 2% higher, up 6.5p at 304p, while British Airways eased a penny to 238p.

One of the leading FTSE risers was British American Tobacco, ahead 39p at 1977p, after its better than expected first quarter update. Imperial Tobacco lifted 52p to 2490p.

Hotels group Intercontinental Hotels added 14p to 839.5p after underlying pre-tax profits rose to £47 million from £40 million.

Elsewhere, gaming group Rank slipped 5% after reporting continued pressure on its Mecca bingo arm. The group said a 14% like-for-like revenues fall represented a modest improvement on the end of last year, but this failed to ease the nerves of investors as shares fell 4.5p to 89.75p.

Frankie & Benny’s operator Restaurant Group jumped 10%, or 14.75p to 161.75p, after it said sales growth accelerated in recent weeks.

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