FTSE on the rise

Barclays shares lifted almost 5% today after results showing a 33% drop in half-year profits came in at the top end of expectations.

Barclays shares lifted almost 5% today after results showing a 33% drop in half-year profits came in at the top end of expectations.

The absence of further shocks on credit crunch write-downs also worked in the stock’s favour, with a gain of 17p to 386p by mid-morning.

The performance of the banking heavyweight contributed to a positive session for the FTSE 100 Index, which rose 27.3 points to 5513.4 ahead of the Bank of England’s midday decision on interest rates.

Medical devices firm Smith & Nephew joined Barclays at the top of the risers board after beating forecasts with its second quarter results. Shares jumped 4% or 21.5p to 589p.

A number of banks rose after the Barclays figures, with Lloyds TSB ahead 13p to 327.25p and Halifax Bank of Scotland 11.25p stronger at 344.25p. Royal Bank of Scotland, which is due to post figures tomorrow, gained 5.75p to 240p.

A busy session for corporate results included some disappointments, with Friends Provident down 3%, or 3.2p to 88.5p, after its half-year profits fell 20% and it failed to announce any disposals as part of its overhaul.

The interims from Friends prompted fresh falls for Standard Life, which eased 4.5p to 238.75p, while Prudential was off 8p at 574p.

General insurer RSA bucked the trend after beating expectations with its half-year figures, causing shares to rise 2.8p to 142p.

International Power neared the top of the fallers board after it said its second half performance would be impacted by an extended outage at its Rugeley power station. Shares were down 15.5p at 405.5p, despite a 19% rise in half-year profits.

Department store chain Debenhams was the biggest faller in the FTSE 250, off 3.75p at 53.75p as yesterday’s talk of an offer from Iceland’s Baugur faded.

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