The FTSE 100 Index was in positive territory today after the latest opinion poll on the Scottish referendum showed a lead for the No campaign.
The top flight index was 14.9 points higher at 6814.6, having fallen yesterday after the European Union said it would impose fresh sanctions on Russian companies in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
Volatility in the pound continued to subside after the sharp fall seen on Monday when a poll raised the prospect of an independent Scotland. Today, sterling was little changed against the US dollar at 1.62 after a YouGov survey put support for No at 52%, slightly ahead of Yes at 48%.
Among details of the EU sanctions, which were disclosed today, companies will be prevented from engaging in new contracts in oil drilling, exploration and related services in Russia’s Arctic, deep sea and shale oil projects.
Shares in BP, which has a near 20% stake in Russia’s Rosneft, were slightly lower – off 1.25p to 471.25p – although at one stage the stock jumped as high as 494p due to what is thought to have been a mistaken trade.
Supermarket stocks were on the front foot after Morrisons issued a defiant set of results yesterday in which it raised its half-year dividend and said it remained confident in the benefits of its three-year turnaround plan.
Shares in the Bradford-based chain were 1.6p higher at 179.5p near the top of the FTSE 100 risers board, while rival Sainsbury’s lifted 5.5p to 290.8p.
Barratt Developments was the biggest riser in the top flight as it continued to benefit from results earlier this week showing a doubling in full-year profits.
The stock was up 9.6p at 388.9p, while elsewhere in the property sector Rightmove was 76p higher at 2397p and Persimmon added 13.5p to 1361.5p.
Barclays rose 4.9p to 230.4p after it announced the appointment of Aviva’s John McFarlane as its new chairman from next year.
In a quiet session for corporate results, pub chain JD Wetherspoon took centre stage as it reported a 3% rise in pre-tax profits to £79.4 million for the year to July 27. Its shares were boosted – up 6p to 768p – after it said like-for-like sales jumped 6.3% in the first six weeks of the new financial year.
Cambridge-based engineering software firm Aveva slumped 23% – off 512p to 1656p - after warning first half results will show a material impact from the strong pound and the timing of some contract renewals.