FTSE closes higher, fuelled by energy stocks and BP Gulf oil spill response

BRITAIN’S top shares rose 3.1 per cent yesterday to hit a one-week high, with oil stocks the standout gainers led by BP as it was making progress in plugging a well which has been leaking in the Gulf of Mexico for five weeks.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 157.09 points at 5,195.17, its highest close since 18 May, boosted by China’s denial of a news report that it would review its holdings in Eurozone sovereign bonds because of the region’s debt crisis.

Integrated oil stocks were in demand. BP added 5.9 per cent.

Peers BG and Royal Dutch Shell put on 4.5 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively, as crude prices moved higher.

Among the big gainers, Prudential climbed 6.8 per cent.

Sector peers were also in demand, with Legal & General and Aviva up 7.4 per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively, bolstered by upbeat comments on the two stocks from Nomura.

Market watchers, however, were cautious about the short-term prospects for the FTSE 100, which was down 2.5 per cent on Tuesday.

Man Group topped the blue chip leader board, up 10.7 per cent after the company posted better-than-expected annual profits and said a decline in its asset values has bottomed out since March.

Banks extended Wednesday’s gain as risk appetite improved. Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered put on 2.7 to 5.6 per cent.

Miners were good performers, helped by firmer metal prices, and as Australia left open the possibility of watering down its “super tax” on the sector.

Vedanta Resources, Anglo American and Fresnillo added 3.8 to 6.4 per cent.