FTSE edges up thanks to banks

London's blue chip index edged up this morning but the Eurozone debt crisis continued to cast a shadow.

Spain's borrowing costs have jumped and the country is grappling to get back on track with a tough set of austerity measures.

The FTSE 100 built on limited gains in yesterday's session as investors took cover in defensive stocks.

They were also eyeing figures out this morning which showed that UK inflation had risen to 3.5 per cent in March from 3.4 per cent in February.

The Office for National Statistics attributed the lift in the Consumer Prices Index to an edging up in food prices.

Barclays was the highest riser in London, up 2.3 per cent and RBS also climbed by more than two per cent. Lloyds, down 0.8 per cent, bucked the upward trend among high street banks.

Also in the financial sector Schroders was up 2.2 per cent and insurer Prudential nudged up 1.4 per cent.

Building materials giant CRH was up 2.5 per cent. Broadcaster ITV also lifted by more than two per cent.

On the downside luxury brand Burberry Group fell 3.9 per cent despite meeting forecasts with an 18 per cent rise in second-half sales.

Burberry's shares have outshone the benchmark in 2012, rising 33.8 per cent, buoyed by soaring China retail sales.

Meanwhile Marks & Spencer shed 2.7 per cent as it missed forecasts for underlying fourth-quarter sales, with growth in food sales failing to offset a weaker outcome in general merchandise.

Miners were mainly on the back foot with BHP down 1.1 per cent and Kazakhmys 0.17 per cent.

But Randgold Resources was the biggest faller in the sector, down 2.9 per cent. Polymetal was off by 1.9 per cent despite yesterday reporting a jump in revenues.

In Asia the Nikkei and Hang Seng closed broadly flat.