FTSE makes slight gain

The London market kept hold of gains from its previous session today as investors appeared determined to recoup recent falls.

The London market kept hold of gains from its previous session today as investors appeared determined to recoup recent falls.

The FTSE 100 Index closed up 18 points at 6156.8, extending the 1.3% gain during yesterday’s session.

Property firms helped boost the top tier risers after a broker note from JP Morgan highlighted its top European property fund choices. British Land was one firm to benefit, up 48p at 1518p, while Land Securities gained 56p to 2067p and Liberty International lifted 25p to 1225p.

Slough Estates was up 21.5p at 760.5p ahead of its results tomorrow, which are set to show assets have grown by 5.5% amid the robust UK and European property markets. Hammerson topped the sector and the risers board with a gain of almost 4%, up 54p to 1568p.

The market’s steady performance came despite the fact that many blue-chip stocks began trading without the right to the most recent dividend payment.

Banks were hardest hit with three of the ’big five’ featuring heavily on the fallers board. Lloyds TSB led the pack with a drop of 24.5p to 539p followed by peer Royal Bank of Scotland, which fell 60p to 2099p. Barclays was off 12.5p at 718p.

ITV joined the banks near the top of the fallers board as analysts gave a cool reception to executive chairman Michael Grade’s plans for the broadcaster.

With the City still seeing much to be done in terms of a profits recovery, shares were down 3p at 108p, a drop of nearly 3%.

Sainsbury’s also lost some of its bid premium, falling 7p to 532p after hitting a new nine-year high yesterday on the back of continued takeover speculation.

Hopes that Morrisons could become a bid target lifted its shares by 5p to 304.75p, while there were also hopes that the Bradford-based supermarket chain could pick up business if its rival becomes distracted by takeover matters.

One of the other major moves came from insurance fund consolidation firm Resolution, which was up 21p at 644p, as investors reacted positively to news that chief executive Paul Thompson was stepping down. The news sparked a raft of takeover speculation over the stock.

Internet gambling company PartyGaming led the second tier, jumping more than 8%, or 3p to 38.75p, on news of consolidation in the sector. Sportingbet soared by more than 15% after Bwin confirmed it had made a preliminary approach for the company. The stock rose 7.75p to 59p.

Among companies reporting results today, infrastructure firm Carillion rose 13.5p to 382.5p even though it issued cautious guidance about prospects for its rail division. The firm posted debts below expectations and unveiled a £16bn (€23.5bn) order book after buying rival Mowlem last year.

The biggest Footsie risers were Hammerson up 54p at 1568p, Resolution ahead 21p at 644p, British Land up 48p at 1518p and Slough Estates ahead 78p at 2159p.

The biggest fallers were Lloyds TSB down 24.5p at 539p, Royal Bank of Scotland off 60p at 2099p, ITV down 3p at 108p and British American Tobacco off 28p at 1535p.

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