FTSE shrugs off downgrade

THE blue chip index rose this morning – led by headline mining and banking shares – on signs that the US and Japan would continue loose monetary policy for some time.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.7 per cent in early deals, as the market brushed off Moody’s downgrade of the UK’s AAA credit rating, although it weighed on the pound.

From the blue chips, Antofagasta was up almost three per cent in early deals, while fellow miner Anglo American rose 2.6 per cent.

Outsourcer Bunzl rose almost two per cent in early trades, as investors welcomed its full-year results. This morning it hiked its dividend seven per cent on increased revenues.

Analyst Robin Speakman from Shore Capital said this morning that Bunzl’s results were "a touch ahead of our expectations, demonstrating a healthy mix of organic development set against difficult market conditions and a strong contribution from acquisitions".

UK banking shares buoyed the index this morning, with RBS the biggest riser, adding 2.6 per cent. Barclays followed suit, climbing 2.2 per cent. HSBC was up 1.26 per cent, while Lloyds Banking Group rose 0.44 per cent.

Outside of the large-cap shares, component maker Senior rose more than seven per cent as it posted a 17 per cent increase in full-year profit.

Bringing down the FTSE this morning was consumer group Reckitt Benckiser, falling four per cent. This morning the US drug regulator approved generic production for its heroin replacement drug, which hurt its shares.

Education group Pearson sank 3.2 per cent, as it said earnings for this year would be flat. It also unveiled a restructuring plan to save £100m annually from next year.

Other fallers included Associated British Foods – which this morning hailed a bumper performance from subsidiary Primark – and Reed Elsevier, shedding 1.3 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed up 2.43 per cent, while in the US the Dow Jones closed up 0.86 per cent.