Banks steal spotlight despite weakness in FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 stalled this morning after closing at its highest level since February on Friday, with miners dragging down the index. In early deals, it was down around 0.25 per cent.

A relaxation in bank liquidity rules dominated the headlines this morning, as regulators said last night that banks will have longer to build up a buffer of liquid assets.

Mexican miner Fresnillo led the fallers, sinking 2.4 per cent in early trading, as falling metal prices hit shares.

Engineering firm Rolls-Royce shed 1.8 per cent, as it was hit with claims of bribery in its China engine deals.

On the wider index, oil and gas producer RusPetro fell almost 21 per cent, following news after the markets closed on Friday that its output growth was “slower than anticipated”.

It was a positive morning for banking shares, as Barclays topped the FTSE 100 leader board in early trading, gaining 3.6 per cent. Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland followed behind, adding 1.9 per cent and 1.47 per cent respectively, boosted by the relaxation in bank liquidity rules. HSBC was up 0.8 per cent.

Engineering shares performed well. Plastics group Carclo was up more than eight per cent in early deals, while blue chip Meggitt was up 1.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, coal miner Bumi rose 3.3 per cent as it said it would launch a major review of its investment plans due to lower coal prices.

Blue chip supermarket WM Morrison rose 0.23 per cent in early trading, following its Christmas sales update this morning. Like for like sales dropped 2.5 per cent over the six weeks to 30 December.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed 0.83 per cent down, while in the US the Dow Jones closed up 0.33 per cent.