Energy stocks lift FTSE

Energy stocks gave the FTSE 100 index renewed impetus in early trading but gains were limited by weaker miners and banks.

Fears over China's growth are still casting a shadow over commodity stocks while banks are still struggling to maintain upward momentum.

Aberdeen Asset Management was the top riser, up 2.4 per cent as the fund manager said in a trading update that its clients added £1.4bn of new money to its range of funds in the first two months of the year. Peel Hunt upgraded its rating for Aberdeen to "buy" from "hold".

The oil industry also saw a jump with Petrofac and BG Group both up just under one per cent.

UK explorer BG unveiled its fourth Tanzanian gas discovery from the Jodari-1 exploration well which helped lift its stock.

In other significant news in the sector BP has put North Sea oil assets worth close to £2bn up for sale. Meanwhile Shell said it was struggling to pay a $1bn oil bill to Iran because of red tape caused by the West's sanctions on the Islamic republic.

BP was up 0.6 per cent while Shell put on around 0.5 per cent.

Meanwhile International Power was up 1.4 per cent while drinks giant Diageo put on 1.5 per cent after positive broker comment from Bernstein and ING.

Luxury retailer Burberry also lifted by more than one per cent.

In banking Barclays was up 1.4 per cent after Morgan Stanley raised its price target for the bank. However, RBS slipped by one per cent and Lloyds also edged down.

RBS and Lloyds were among the five biggest fallers on the blue chip index on early trading.

Overall miners continued to be hit by fears over slowing growth in China and heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton nudged down.

Other casualties were commodities giant Glencore, down 1.2 per cent.

Telecoms giant BT was off by a similar amount while Irish building services company CRH also dipped.

On the FTSE-250 EasyJet gained 7.5 per cent after saying that its losses were narrowing.

In Asia the Nikkei and the Hang Seng closed broadly flat.