London’s leading index closed higher for a third day running as investors shrugged off fears of a slowdown in the euro region.
The FTSE 100 Index rose 21.8 points at 5340.4, with sentiment aided by gains on Wall Street ahead of a major speech by President Obama when he is expected to unveil a string of new job creation programmes.
ECB chief Jean Claude-Trichet’s comments that the risks to eurozone growth are rising and a decision to keep eurozone rates on hold at 1.5% hit the euro, which fell to 1.148 against the pound.
Sterling also rose against the dollar to 1.606 after the Bank of England’s decision to keep UK interest rates at a record low of 0.5%.
A late rally by the miners boosted the index, with Glencore up 30.8p at 436.5p, Vedanta Resources 61p ahead at 1451p and Fresnillo 90p higher at 2147p.
High street banks had another unsettled day and gave back early gains, sparked by talk that any introduction of a ring-fence between their retail and investment arms could take years to implement, to close little changed.
The Independent Commission on Banking report is published on Monday but after an early jump Royal Bank of Scotland added just 0.28p to 22.74p, shares in Lloyds Banking were up by 0.17p to 32.9p and Barclays fell 1p to 159p.
The recent bumpy ride at insurer Admiral continued, with its shares 33p lower at 1364p after the Office of Fair Trading issued a “call for evidence” over competition in the motor insurance sector following average premium increases of up to 40% in a year. Shares in Admiral, which owns
Confused.com, have fallen by about a fifth since June amid worries over the rising cost of personal injury claims.
Retail stocks enjoyed a rare upbeat session after supermarket Morrisons posted higher profits and the owner of Argos limited its slide in sales.
Home Retail Group’s trading update was not as bad as some analysts feared, even though sales at Argos dropped by 9% over the last three months.
The update caused shares to rise 2% or 2.3p to 117.8p in the FTSE 250 Index and helped reassure investors in top flight retail stocks.
Marks & Spencer was a big riser in the FTSE 100 Index after speculation that a private equity firm may be interested in buying a 3.7% stake currently held by US investment firm Brandes. Shares were 8.1p higher at 321.9p, a rise of 3%.
Morrisons was 12.2p higher at 301.6p after meeting City forecasts with an 8% rise in half-year profits.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Glencore up 30.8p at 436.5p, Tullow Oil ahead 56p at 1227p, Arm Holdings 25.5p higher at 590p and Vedanta up by 61p at 1451p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Admiral down 33p at 1364p, Schroders off 31p at 1446p, Unilever down 38p at 2011p and Lonmin off 20p at 1240p.