BRITAIN’S top share index yesterday ended higher, with motor insurers advancing on news of an increase in car premiums and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline rising after its results.
The FTSE 100 finished 0.4 per cent higher at 6,399.73 points. It had fallen more than 10 per cent in four weeks before making a marginal recovery since late last week.
GlaxoSmithKline, up 2.6 per cent to 1,377p, was among the top gainers in the FTSE 100 after setting out a bold recovery plan, including an initial public offering of part of its HIV and AIDS drugs business. It recorded core earnings per share (EPS) of 27.9p, against expectations of 23.9p.
The UK non-life insurance index rose 1.5 per cent after motoring group AA said the price of car insurance had risen for the first time since early 2012.
Shares in Admiral rose 3.4 per cent to 1,285p, the top FTSE 100 gainer, while Direct Line, Britain’s largest car insurer, gained 3.1 per cent to 279.60p and mid-cap esure Group was up 5.9 per cent to close at 235p.
Gains were partly offset by a fall in British American Tobacco (BAT) after a trading update.
BAT was down 2.6 per cent to 3,375p, after the maker of Pall Mall and Dunhill cigarettes said the trading environment remains challenging because of pressure on consumer disposable income worldwide, currency issues and a slow economic recovery in western Europe.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 index rose one per cent, boosted by a bullish update by gambling technology business Playtech and bid speculation surrounding speciality chemicals maker Croda International.
Croda rose 5.8 per cent to 2,215p, adding to a 1.8 per cent gain on Tuesday, which the Daily Mail and Daily Express newspapers attributed to talk of a £4bn offer for the company.
Playtech surged 5.1 per cent to 737.50p, after saying it was confident it would exceed current market expectations after a strong start to its fourth quarter, which followed a 29 per cent rise in revenue in the preceding period.
Supermarkets all fell on the prediction put forward by insolvency experts Begbies Traynor on the news they faced a miserable Christmas and potential financial problems unless they sorted out issues stopping them fighting off competition from discounters. Sainsbury’s was down 3.32 per cent to 241.70p and Morrison fell 3.21 per cent to 156.90p.