FTSE in the black

A strong session for taxpayer-owned banks helped keep London’s blue-chip share index in positive territory today.

FTSE in the black

A strong session for taxpayer-owned banks helped keep London’s blue-chip share index in positive territory today.

The FTSE 100 Index rose 10.9 points to 5686.1, although it lost some of the earlier gains seen after a strong session in Asia thanks to better than expected manufacturing data from China.

Hopes that the US Federal Reserve will agree to pump more money into the world’s largest economy on Wednesday was also a factor in the positive start to week.

This saw US stock futures rise, pointing to a higher opening on Wall Street today, although traders were braced for a volatile week ahead of the mid-term elections.

In London, part-nationalised banks led the risers ahead of the third quarter reporting season from UK players this week.

Royal Bank of Scotland, which reports on Friday, added 1.2p to 45.8p, while Lloyds Banking Group lifted 1.2p to 70.1p ahead of its trading update on Tuesday.

Smiths Group – the cargo-scanning equipment maker – was another posting big gains as reports suggested it had been in contact with the Government over the weekend as part of efforts to step up security in the wake of the Yemeni bomb plot. Its shares rose 2% or 28p to 1220p.

BT was 1.9p higher at 155.6p as it continues to benefit from news that the Government will pick up liabilities for the bulk of its pension scheme, with expectations the ruling could slash its deficit by up to a third.

The biggest fall in the top flight came from services firm Serco, which dropped 7% after government intervention led it to retract claims against its suppliers for retrospective cash rebates. Shares were 40.5p lower at 573.5p.

Weir Group was another top flight faller, down 44p to 1514p despite forecasting profits ahead of previous guidance.

Retail giant Marks & Spencer was 7.2p down at 420.2p after weekend speculation that new boss Marc Bolland was planning to unveil a relaunch on the continent by buying back former European stores sold 10 years ago.

Analysts at Shore Capital said it could end up paying too much to buy back the properties.

Outside the top flight, music group Chrysalis jumped 22% – up 24p to 134p - after it confirmed it was in the early stage of talks over potential “merger opportunities”.

A weekend newspaper report suggested the group’s founder Chris Wright was looking to secure a deal to help grow the business and address shareholder concerns over its share price.

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