Banks fuel FTSE gains but Eurozone picture darkens

Banks fuelled modest gains on the FTSE 100 in early trading but investor confidence remained weak overall as the Eurozone's leaders failed to offer any evidence of a path to recovery for the bloc.

Disagreements between the region's policymakers over how to deal with the turmoil are weighing on investors' confidence ahead of a European Union summit later this week.

Late yesterday German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the idea of common Eurozone bonds, saying Europe would not share total debt liability "as long as I live".

On London's blue chip index RBS was the highest climber, up 1.8 per cent, recovering some ground after recent losses triggered by a computer crisis which affected the accounts of thousands of customers.

Meanwhile Lloyds was up 1.7 per cent and Barclays 1.6 per cent.

Asia focused Standard Chartered edged up 0.3 per cent despite announcing that profit growth would slow slightly.

The FTSE 350 banking index rose 0.8 per cent but remains down by around 10 per cent since the start of 2012.

iPhone chip maker ARM Holdings was up 1.5 per cent, making it one of the top risers.

BT Group, up 1.4 per cent, was another gainer along with drinks giant SABMiller, up 1.1 per cent.

Commodity stocks were the poorest performers on the index with steelmaker Evraz off by 3.7 per cent.

Polymetal nudged down by more than two per cent.

Meanwhile Glencore lost more than two per cent after it became more likely that it would be forced to sweeten its offer for Xstrata as another prominent shareholder came out against the deal. Xstrata edged up 0.2 per cent.

The biggest individual faller on the FTSE 100 was interdealer broker ICAP which shed almost five per cent. The company has recently bought the Plus stock exchange.

In Asia the Nikkei closed up 0.7 per cent and the Hang Seng one per cent.