A turbulent week on the London market looked set to end on a high point today as blue-chip shares raced ahead.
By lunchtime investors were enjoying a respite from yesterday’s bloodbath as the FTSE 100 Index put on 94.3 points at 4324.3.
The US was the main reason for improved mood.
A late rally last night saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average claw back the bulk of the day’s losses while the tech-laden Nasdaq closed in positive territory.
Traders were also expecting a positive start when trading gets underway again later today after upbeat post-close updates from computer firms Dell and Juniper Networks.
But despite improved trading on the both sides of the Atlantic, few were confident it represented a sustainable recovery.
Instead, analysts believed the pick-up was being driven by bargain-hunters following London’s dive to fresh five-year lows yesterday.
In the meantime, however, a host of shares were making up lost ground.
Heavyweight mobile phone group Vodafone was leading the charge, up 7p or 8% at 93¼p.
Others in the sector putting on weight included BT, up 6½p at 247p, and mmO2, 3¼p ahead at 47p.
Cable & Wireless issued a trading statement at its annual general meeting today.
It predicted another tough year ahead for the telecoms industry but said its strong balance sheet would protect it. Shares gained 7½p at 168½p.
Old economy stocks adding their support included drugs groups GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, ahead 67p at £12.57 and 72p at £24.14 respectively.
AstraZeneca boosted sentiment after positive an update on the trials for its prostate cancer drug Zoladex.
Financial stocks were also benefiting from the improved sentiment as Aviva, the new name for CGNU, posted a 24½p hike to 437½p. Old Mutual put on 3½p at 85p.
Barclays led a clutch of banking stocks with a rise of 17½p to 473½p. Lloyds TSB was up 12p to 594½p, Royal Bank of Scotland was 38p stronger £16.23 and HBOS added a penny at 612½p.
Among companies reporting today, London Stock Exchange eased 3½p to 402½p despite announcing an 8% rise in first-quarter turnover.
But retailer Blacks Leisure picked up 11½p to 255p on the back of a positive trading statement.
However, market newcomer Burberry failed to catch the more upbeat mood and eased back from its starting price of 230p to stand at 225p in conditional trading.