Investors were treated to a landmark session today as the FTSE 100 Index made surprise gains to smash through the 6,000 barrier.
The milestone was reached in spectacular fashion after the blue-chip index surged 50 points in the opening hour of business and later stood 40.6 points higher at 6033.8 by mid-morning.
Analysts had expected the top flight to hover below the mark, but financial stocks drove the improvement after Legal & General weighed in with better-than-expected results.
Legal’s shares were up by more than 8%, a gain of 11p to 145p, as analysts also pondered whether the figures increased the chances of the company receiving a bid from an overseas company.
Prudential followed suit with a rise of 38.5p to 666p, while Norwich Union owner Aviva was up 20p to 847p.
The mood was further helped by Vodafone after it confirmed it had sold its Japanese unit to SoftBank in a deal valuing the business at £8.9 billion. With shareholders set to get £6 billion of the proceeds, shares initially lifted 2% as Vodafone continued the recovery of recent sessions.
The market heavyweight eased slightly as the morning wore on but still stood 0.75p higher at 130.75p.
The biggest corporate story of the day came from the FTSE 250 Index after Body Shop said it had agreed to a takeover by French company L’Oreal.
Shares rose 10% or 27.25p to 295.25p and brought a £117 million windfall for founder Dame Anita Roddick and husband Gordon.
It was followed higher by nightclubs operator Luminar as it became the latest bars chain to find itself in the sights of property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz.
On this occasion, the Tchenguiz family trust emerged as part of a consortium considering a move for Luminar, which has a market value of around £450m. Shares in the chain were up almost 9%, or 49.5p to 619.5p.