British Airways boosts FTSE

British Airways received a much-needed boost today after better-than-expected first quarter results caused its shares to surge.

British Airways received a much-needed boost today after better-than-expected first quarter results caused its shares to surge.

The improvement in profits to £289 million offset lower guidance on revenues growth, which reflects the impact of soaring fuel prices and the weak dollar. BA, fined £270 million earlier this week for colluding on passenger and cargo flight pricing, saw shares rise 9p to 412.75p.

The rest of the market showed signs of ending recent volatility, with the FTSE 100 Index up for much of the first hour of trading before easing slightly to stand 10.4 points lower at 6290.1 by mid-morning.

BA was joined on the Footsie risers board by mining giant Anglo American, which confirmed it planned to sell Tarmac in a deal that reports said could net £3 billion. With first-half earnings also ahead 22% on higher prices, Anglo shares lifted 87p to 2856p, a gain of more than 3%.

Other miners benefited from the results, with Rio Tinto 50p stronger at 3385p and Vedanta Resources 26p higher at 1699p.

Royal & Sun Alliance also gained after a broker upgrade ahead of half-year results from the general insurer next week. The stock was 3.8p higher at 132.8p, offsetting slight falls seen elsewhere in the financial sector.

Royal Bank of Scotland trod water with a fall of 3.5p to 588p following strong first-half results, while Norwich Union owner Aviva slipped 1p to 679.5p after announcing it planned a 10% hike in household premiums.

In the FTSE 250 Index, engineering group Tomkins surged 9% as analysts upgraded forecasts in the wake of second quarter results. While profits fell, the decline was less than expected as Tomkins shares rose 20.25p to 252.25p.

Car dealership Inchcape continued to benefit from a favourable reaction to results yesterday, rising 23.5p, or 5%, at 493p.

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