FTSE heading for session in the black

The FTSE 100 Index was heading for its first positive session of the week today with financial stocks setting the pace.

The FTSE 100 Index was heading for its first positive session of the week today with financial stocks setting the pace.

In the wake of President Bush’s plea for Congress’s help over the $700bn (€477bn) bail-out package, banks and insurers were trading up, with Royal Bank of Scotland ahead nearly 5%.

Losses for some energy-facing stocks held back wider gains, and the Footsie was up 30 points to 5125.6 by mid-morning.

Insurers were featuring at the top of the riser’s board, helped by positive outlook comments from the boss of European insurance giant Axa. More Than owner RSA Insurance was up 10% or 14.4p to 157.9p, followed by Norwich Union group Aviva, up 6% to 29.25p to 520.5p.

RBS was 10p better off at 220p, with HBOS adding 7p to 187.5p. But Lloyds TSB moved in the opposite direction, falling 9p to 258p.

A downgrade from broker Investec cast a cloud over holiday company Thomas Cook, which was down 5% or 10.5p to 213p. Rival TUI Travel escaped the slippage after being identified as Investec’s pick of the sector, causing its shares to rise 8p to 214p.

ITV was near the top of the FTSE 250 Index risers board after watchdog Ofcom indicated it may reduce the broadcaster’s public service obligations. Shares were 3p higher at 45.25p.

Bradford & Bingley moved 2.25p lower to 22.75p amid continued concerns about interbank lending rates and fears it will not attract a buyer. The decline came before the bank announced plans to cut 370 jobs.

And Daily Mail & General Trust fell nearly 8% or 25.75p to 308.75p after it said full year results would be at the lower end of market expectations.

The likes of Royal Dutch Shell and Cairn Energy were on weaker ground as oil prices eased back a couple of dollars from the 107 dollar a barrel level. Shell slipped 18p to 1635p, with Cairn 67p worse off at 2252p.

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