Banks keep FTSE 100 above 6,100 level

The blue chip index nudged up in early trading this morning – staying above the 6,100 level – as it consolidated overnight gains from the US, where the S&P 500 hit a five-year high.

Financial stocks were bouncing about at the top of the FTSE 100 in early deals, with Barclays and RBS adding 1.8 per cent and 1.74 per cent respectively. Lloyds Banking Group was also up, by 0.87 per cent. Only HSBC was off by 0.21 per cent.

Insurance giant Aviva added 2.23 per cent, as Citigroup upgraded the stock to “buy” and raised its target price.

The biggest large cap riser in early trading was BA and Iberia owner International Airlines Group, following a UBS upgrade from “neutral” to “buy”.

On the wider index, comparison site Moneysupermarket rose almost 9.5 per cent, as it said this morning that adjusted revenue is expected to increase by around 15 for the full year.

Tullow Oil led the FTSE 100 down, on the back of a mixed trading statement this morning. While the oil behemoth said it expected a busy start to its drilling schedule this year, it also said it would write off $219m for dry holes and licence relinquishments. Tullow fell 4.24 per cent in early trading.

Other miners made up the top blue chip sinkers, with BHP Billiton shedding 2.6 per cent, Rio Tinto falling almost two per cent and Vedanta losing 1.5 per cent on concerns over Chinese growth.

In Japan, the Nikkei closed 1.4 per cent up, as the government approved a 10.3 trillion yen stimulus package. In the US, the Dow Jones closed up 0.6 per cent.