The FTSE 100 Index was within touching distance of the 5100 barrier tonight as investors brushed off concerns about soaring oil prices.
Broker upgrades on a series of stocks helped the Footsie close 10.1 points higher at 5082.1, representing another three-year high for the index.
Silver Spoon sugar group Associated British Foods topped the blue-chip risers, gaining 2% or 18p to 806p, as Merrill Lynch upgraded it to “buy” from “neutral”.
Pest control and hygiene firm Rentokil Initial was not far behind, rising 2p to 158.5p after a broker said restructuring options would enhance value for shareholders and potential bidders.
And British American Tobacco cheered 6p to 1066p after SG Securities reiterated its buy rating on the tobacco giant and increased its target share price to 1170p.
However, oil companies lost out as the cost of a barrel of US light crude slipped further from yesterday’s record high, down 22c to just above $59 by the end of trading.
BP gave up 4p to stand at 586.5p while Shell retreated 4.25p to 515.5p. However, gas exploration company BG Group bucked the trend, lifting 0.75p to 456.5p. Oil-dependent British Airways was another beneficiary, featuring on the risers board with a 23p hike to 1360p.
The highest Footsie risers today were AB Foods up 18p to 806p, International Power rising 4p to 201.5p, Barclays up 9.5p to 543p and GlaxoSmithKline rising 23p to 1360p.
The heaviest fallers were Antofagasta down 27p to 1221p, Shire Pharmaceuticals losing 10p to 617.5p, William Hill off 8.5p to 529.5p and Anglo American down 20p to 1324p.