A strong end to the week in New York ensured the FTSE 100 Index established a foothold above the 5500 barrier today.
Wall Street rallied by more than 2% on Friday after a surge in the dollar and another plunge in oil prices eased some of investors’ worries about losses at mortgage finance company Fannie Mae.
On a thin day for corporate news in London, the FTSE 100 Index responded with a gain of 29.3 points to 5518.5 by mid-morning.
A stronger US dollar benefited building supplies firm Wolseley, which generates a large slice of its earnings in the currency and saw its share price rally 8% or 32.75p to 453.5p. The same factor helped medical devices firm Smith & Nephew, which rose 17.5p to 618p.
Housebuilders set the pace in the FTSE 250 Index, as investors eyed potential value in the beleaguered sector and digested a note from Goldman Sachs.
Persimmon rose 40.5p to 410.25p and Bellway gained 35p to 638.5p after Goldman increased price targets on the stocks, while Barratt Developments fared even better with a rise of 33% or 42.25p to 170.25p. Taylor Wimpey joined the party with an improvement of 8.75p to 60p and Bovis Homes lifted 33.5p to 471.5p.
The biggest top flight fall of the session came from Eurasian Natural Resources after Kazakhmys upped its stake in the company to 25% but said it was not planning a bid for the mining company. ENR fell 65p to 1059p, or 6%.
The rest of the sector was on the front foot, with Anglo American ahead 68p at 2760p and Rio Tinto 96p stronger at 4781p.
Oil prices rebounded slightly after hefty falls in recent days, meaning Royal Dutch Shell improved 35p to 1740p and BP added 8p to 527.5p.