The FTSE 100 Index approached levels not seen since early July today as lower oil prices and a strong finish on Wall Street boosted London shares.
After closing positively for the fifth session in a row yesterday, the Footsie gained another 17.2 points to stand at 4428.8 by mid-morning.
The mood was helped by a 1% rise for the Dow Jones Industrial Average last night as the cost of a barrel of US light crude dropped below $44.
On a mixed day for corporate news in London, pest control-to-hygiene firm Rentokil Initial took top place in the Footsie fallers board after investors reacted negatively to the company’s decision not to break itself up.
Shares fell more than 5% or 8.5p to 144.5p despite the group’s confirmation that it planned to hike the full year dividend by 10%.
Hotel operator Hilton Group was also lower – down half a penny at 258.75p – as it lost hold of early gains achieved following a better-than-expected 72% rise in half-year profits. Hilton said the performance of its hotels had improved, but warned it was still too early to celebrate a full recovery.
British Airways was the top riser, putting on 2% or 5p to 228.5p in the wake of the falling oil price. ICI also benefited from the energy boost – up 3.75p at 221.75p.
Elsewhere, two of the UK’s biggest engineering groups struggled to make progress despite offering positive guidance on prospects.
Invensys was unchanged at 15p after posting a large rise in first quarter losses but adding that its outlook was healthy. Tomkins also offered encouragement with higher profits but shares remained stuck at 254.5p.
Outside the top flight, dairy companies Robert Wiseman and Dairy Crest made progress – up 6.5p and 9.75p at 216.5p and 389.75p respectively – after being awarded milk supply contracts from Sainsbury’s. Arla Foods missed out on the long-term arrangements and saw its share price fall 4% or 2.25p to 49.75p.