Banks and commodities make gains as Wall Street is closed for public holiday

BRITAIN’S leading shares rose 0.5 per cent yesterday, led by firmer banks and commodity issues after falls in the previous session, while British Airways climbed on increased hopes for a global alliance.

At the close, the FTSE 100 was 25.02 points higher at 5,167.47, well below the session peak of 5,194.29.

Blue chips drifted off highs in the afternoon with Wall Street shut for the Presidents Day holiday yesterday, Asian markets celebrating Chinese New Year, and the half-term holiday week for British schools curbing volume and interest.

“Investors have taken the opportunity to pick up some bargains after recent falls without the distractions of Wall Street, notably in the miners and the banks,” said Mic Mills, senior trader at ETX Capital.“But with uncertainties continuing over Greece’s debt problems, and some key data to come later this week, such as UK inflation, how long the euphoria will last is anyone’s guess.”

Banks, knocked back recently by uncertainty over the European ahead

Union’s rescue plan for Greece, saw a relief rally. Barclays, due to report full-year results today, was the top blue chip riser, up five per cent, while Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland added 0.5 and 1.1 per cent, respectively.