FTSE steadied by Greek breakthrough

The FTSE 100 started solidly this morning as it emerged that France and Germany had reached an agreement on a second bailout for Greece.

Banks led the way as investors gained confidence in stocks recently buffeted by fears of exposure to the debt crisis which has engulfed the Eurozone.

Leaders of the 16-country bloc will later reveal the details of a deal to give Greece a new lifeline with heavyweights France and Germany dictating the terms.

RBS was up almost three per cent with Barclays up 2.3 per cent and Lloyds 1.4 per cent. HSBC edged up by 0.2 per cent as the sector shored up the market.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was up 3.5 per cent — buoyed by regulators giving the green light to new heart drug Brilinta which it wants to put on the market.

B&Q owner Kingfisher was up 2.6 per cent despite seeing its second quarter sales hit by weak UK spending. The retail sector performed strongly with Primark owner AB Foods one of the fastest climbers in early trading.

BSkyB also saw a narrow rise as it continued to hold steady after the Murdoch empire's bruising, and ultimately failed, bid for the company.

The biggest faller on London's blue chip index was outsourcer Capita, down 4.95 per cent despite reporting a growth in profit fuelled by a series of new contracts. Brokerage Collins Stewart said the figures were disappointing in terms of margin improvement and organic sales growth.

Rival Serco also retreated, losing around 1.8 per cent.

The mining sector took a hit with Xstrata, Eurasian, Rio Tinto and Kazakhmys all down between 1.5 and 2 per cent after weak manufacturing data from China threatened to drain demand for commodities.

Commodities trader Glencore was also down more than two per cent.

Across the FTSE pub group Mitchells and Butlers which was down nearly five per cent after reporting stuttering sales growth.

In global markets Asian stocks slipped overnight after Chinese manufacturing contracted for the first time in a year.

In terms of domestic economic data, the Office for National Statistics said retail sales volumes rose 0.7 per cent last month, recovering only half the previous month's drop.

The ONS also said public sector net borrowing held steady at £12bn last month, as expected.

Across the Atlantic later weekly US jobless figures are scheduled for release.