FTSE snaps out of losing streak

Shares in Barclays rallied 6% today amid speculation that it is on the brink of announcing the £3bn (€3.31bn) sale of its iShares arm.

The balance sheet boost caused shares to rise 9p to 166.8p during a strong session for the sector as Royal Bank of Scotland cheered 1.4p to 27.5p and Lloyds Banking Group rose 2.1p to 73.8p. HSBC was 9.25p higher at 446.25p.

The gains helped the London market snap out of its losing streak, with the FTSE 100 Index up 8.2 points at 3933.7 by mid-morning.

Spirits were lifted by a positive session in New York, while Asian markets were also stronger overnight.

As well as banks, miners made progress after Vedanta Resources reported an increase in production for the fourth quarter. Vedanta leapt to the top of the risers board with a gain of 8% or 59p to 832p, while Xstrata added 38p to 562p and Kazakhmys lifted 25.75p to 452p.

In a quiet session for corporate news, recruitment firm Hays spooked investors by announcing a 37% drop in net fees from UK and Ireland.

Panmure Gordon stockbrokers slashed its earnings per share estimate for Hays next year by 29% in the wake of the third quarter update. Shares fell 4% at one stage but later recovered their poise to stand quarter of a penny lower at 73.75p.

Software firm Misys rose 10% in the FTSE 250 Index after it reported growth in its banking arm, despite the recent turmoil in the sector. Shares were 11.25p higher at 127p.

Meanwhile, housebuilders continued to strengthen after a spate of positive notes on the sector by analysts. Barratt Developments was 13% or 16p higher at 144.25p, while Taylor Wimpey cheered 3.25p to 46.25p and Redrow gained 14.75p to 205.75p.

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