A raft of solid earnings from household names encouraged investors to overlook the unfolding chaos in the eurozone and send London’s blue chip index higher.
The FTSE 100 Index rose by 21 points at 5505.7, having been lower earlier in the session, after EU leaders at the G20 Summit in Cannes told Greece that its referendum on the hard-won rescue deal will decide whether it remains in the eurozone.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy also told Athens it will not receive its next €8bn bailout tranche until the referendum has passed.
Splits in the Greek cabinet added to the uncertainty with finance minister Evangelos Venizelos breaking ranks with prime minister George Papandreou on the referendum proposal amid calls for a government of national unity for the country.
Stocks markets rallied on hopes that a referendum on the bailout may not yet occur, with Germany’s DAX bouncing back to rise almost 2% while the Cac-40 in France was up by a similar amount,
Good earnings numbers also helped improve the mood in London. Food ingredients giant Tate & Lyle hit the top of the risers’ board after it reported a 38% surge in adjusted pre-tax profits to £180m in the six months to September 30.
Tate, which saw sales increase 19%, forecast a strong full-year performance. Shares were up nearly 4% or 24p at 671p.
Telecoms giant British Telecom also attracted buyers after it accompanied forecast-beating second quarter profits with an upbeat assessment of prospects for its broadband operations, where its added 166,000 new subscribers over the past three months.
Financials were unsettled by the Greek uncertainty with the banking sector volatile. After early falls, Barclays was up 1.9p at 183p, but HSBC was off 2p at 538.8p and Royal Bank of Scotland little changed at 23.3p.
Insurer Aviva fell after it posted an 8% fall in long-term savings sales in the first nine months of the year due to the recent market turbulence. Shares were 1.2p lower at 324p.
On the FTSE 250, telecoms group CWC shareholders enjoyed one the best days since last year’s split from the UK part of Cable & Wireless.
Shares rose by 11% or 4.1p to 40.6p as the group, which has operations in Macau, Panama, Monaco and the Caribbean, said smartphone usage is booming while the troubled Caribbean business had stabilised.