A strong performance from oil stocks and a flurry of takeover activity buoyed the London market today which finished a steady week in the black.
Anxiety over an interest rates decision by the United States Federal Reserve expected next week has caused some negative sentiment.
But as investors cheered the latest developments in the battle for Associated British Ports, heavily-weighted oil stocks helped buoy the FTSE 100 Index which closed 8 points up at 5692.1.
Among the strongest performers were BP which lifted 12p to 617p and Royal Dutch shell which rose 26p to 1821p while Cairn Energy was 96p ahead at 2071p and BG Group was up 18.5p to 695.
Commenting on the stocks, Ian Griffiths, trader at CMC Markets, said: “Deutsche Bank had increased its price target on a host of European oil companies by between 5% and 7%, as the sector still remains buoyant by the high crude prices seen at present.”
Software maker Sage cheered 2p to 223.75p following strong results from US giant Oracle which boosted the IT sector.
British Airways gained 1.5p to 347.5 after investors bought back into the stock. It followed a slump of 6% yesterday on the news BA and other airlines are under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading and US Department of Justice over the cost of air travel. If found guilty, the airlines could face fines of many millions of pounds.
The miners were dragging on the market, with Vedanta off 31p to 1301p and BHP Billiton down 6p to 994p.
And online gambling group PartyGaming lost 1.75p to 121.25p following talk it is looking to issue debt in order to make a bricks and mortar acquisition though analysts have doubts it will move from the online sector.
In the second flight, all eyes were on Associated British Ports, the UK’s largest ports operator, after it agreed to an improved £2.8 billion takeover offer from Goldman Sachs.
Rival bidder Macquarie immediately urged AB Ports shareholders to “take no action in response to the revised proposal” as it considered whether to make an alternative offer and shares in AB Ports lifted 38p to 919p.
But it was beaten to the top of the risers board by travel stocks boosted by the news that transport company Stagecoach was selling its London bus operations to Australia’s Macquarie Bank for £263.6 million. Shares in Stagecoach lifted 3% or 3p to 110p.
Go-Ahead was ahead 8% or 134p to 1931p, tracked by National Express up 43.5p to 850p, Arriva up 33.5p to 572.5p, and First Group which lifted 23p to 437p.
And high street retailer Woolworths gained 2% or half a penny to 31.5p following a report a private equity group was buying stock in the group in the belief another bid was imminent.
The day’s biggest blue chip risers were Corus up 21.75p to 430.75p, Cairn Energy ahead 96p to 2071p, BG Group up 18.5p to 695p and Rentokil International up 3p to 152.75p.
The days biggest blue chip fallers were Vedanta Resources down 31p to 1301p, Centrica off 5.5p to 274.25p, Amvescap down 7.5p to 467.5p and Brambles down 6.5p to 413.5p.