FTSE shored up by banks

The FTSE 100 was broadly flat this morning as investors turned their attention to an IMF meeting later today and French Presidential elections at the weekend.

IMF leaders gathering in Washington want a big boost in funding to handle the Eurozone dent but Brazil has called for more power in the organisation for emerging nations.

Meanwhile the French election is seen as crucial in Eurozone struggling to steer itself away from the stormy waters of the debt crisis, with Spain the latest country to struggle to stay afloat.

On London’s blue chip index modest gains in banks and miners were countered by weakness in integrated oils, which were hit by a drop in the price of brent crude.

The highest climber was engineer IMI, up 2.5 per cent, after reporting higher first quarter sales.

Water company Severn Trent nudged up by 2.4 per cent.

In the mining sector Kazakhmys enjoyed the biggest lift, up 1.6 per cent.

Among banks Lloyds was the best performer with a 1.6 per gain after Investec Securities repeated its buy rating.

Barclays, was up 0.8 per cent after the bank offered an olive branch to investors over the £17.7m package awarded to its chief executive, Bob Diamond. There will be amendments to his bonus. RBS bucked the trend, sipping by 0.6 per cent.

On the down side iPhone chip maker Arm Holdings was off by 2.4 per cent, the biggest faller on the index.

The drop came after a warning on Wednesday from leading cellphone chip maker Qualcomm that supply constraints will limit its revenues for the rest of the yea.

Mobile phones operator Vodafone was also weak, down 0.2 per cent, with the mobile telecoms firm still weighing up the possibilities of a bid for mid cap C&W Worldwide, after its Thursday deadline to make a bid was extended to noon on 23 April.

Meanwhile engineer Weir Group was off by 1.4 per cent.

Oil majors BP and Shell both edged down by around one per cent.

In Asia the Nikkei closed down 0.02 per cent while the Hang Seng was marginally up.