Banks lead the pack as FTSE bounces back - London Report

GAINS in major bank stocks led Britain’s benchmark equity index higher yesterday, and troubled supermarket group Tesco rose after new board appoint­ments.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which fell to its lowest closing level in nearly a year last week, closed up by 0.6 per cent, or 35.74 points, at 6,563.65 points.

Among the financials, Barclays was 3.43 per cent better at 232.30p. Global lenders HSBC and Standard Chart­ered, which have large exposure to Hong Kong, rose as civil unrest there eased. HSBC was 0.28 per cent higher at 634p, while Standard Chartered was up 1.39 per cent at 1,129p.

For the past few weeks, miners have been hit hard by a drop in precious metal prices and a strong dollar. However, yesterday there were signs of recovery.

Antofagasta added 3.82 per cent to 706.50p as copper and other base metals edged higher as the recent surge in the dollar saw a pause. Anglo Amer­ican was 2.55 per cent better at 1,348p and with gold and silver off their recent lows and precious metals miner Fresnillo rose 3.54 per cent to 745.5p.

BG rose 2.53 per cent to 1,093p after it said it had received $350m (£212.5m) from the Egyptian government as part of a commitment to repay outstand­ing debts to the energy industry. BG still has an outstanding balance of $1.2bn with Cairo, and the company said it was working with the government to resolve the situation.

Airlines also took off. EasyJet added 0.55 per cent to 1,467, as Citigroup raised its price target from 1,600p to 1,670p.

British Airways and Iberia owner Inter­nat­ional Airlines Group climbed 1.67 per cent to 371.30p after chief executive Willie Walsh told Expansion that the Spanish carrier could be as profitable as BA.

Tesco was up 2.67 per cent at 176.75p on the news that the troubled supermarket was boosting its board with the appointment of two new non-executive directors, Richard Cous­ins of food service giant Compass and Mikael Ohls­son, formerly of Ikea.

Marks & Spencer added 1.35 per cent to 405.90p despite one of the iconic retailer’s joint brokers, Citgroup, cutting its price target from 440p to 400p with a neutral rating.

And Restore, the office services group, rose six per cent to 240.50p after the £23.5m purchase of a large competitor, the UK records management business, Cintas.

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