LONDON'S FTSE 100 closed above 5,800 today for only the second time in almost a month, pushed up by financial services firms.
Barclays, RBS and the Prudential were among the biggest gainers, while energy firm BG also rose more than three per cent and services firms Serco and BT also made the top ten.
HSBC did well, but fellow emerging markets player Standard Chartered saw one of the biggest falls in the day’s trading after warning that its costs were growing faster than its income while it invested in new branches and hiring new staff.
Increasing competition for workers and higher compliance and regulatory costs also hurt its performance, Standard Chartered’s pre-close trading update said.
BG Group was supported by its announcement that technical costs for the initial phase of development at its Tupi and Guará fields in the Santos Basin, offshore Brazil, would be “very low”.
The company expects to gain 600 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) from the fields.
High street chains Next and Marks & Spencer found the going tough, showing some of the biggest falls on the FTSE100.
It was a similar story at mid-cap retailers Kesa, WH Smith and Debenhams in the FTSE250.
European markets were buoyed by optimism over Japan’s 1.1 per cent third quarter growth, revised upwards from 0.9 per cent; and by US tax cut proposals.
And the region's banks improved, with Societe Generale, Banco de Sabadell and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria surging higher.
But carmakers BMW, Volkswagen, Peugeot and Renault saw shares fall after the China Automobile Industry Association announced it may stop tax incentives for buying passenger cars in 2011.
The CAC 40 in Paris finished up 26 at 3,858, the German DAX 40 ended 12 lower at 6,964 and the Spanish IBEX 35 was up 107 at 10,186.
A weak morning session on Wall Street did London no favours, despite a raft of new US data showing a strengthening recovery.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged up but capped their gains over uncertainty over the proposed tax-cut legislation and a recent rise in bond yields.
By 4pm local time, the Dow Jones was up 7.46 to 11,363; the Nasdaq 100 had risen 0.65 to 2,201.25 and the broader S&P 500 was up 4.46 points to 1,232.74.