No sign of vertigo as banks take the FTSE 100 higher

THE FTSE 100 continued its upward momentum yesterday, propelled up by financials and miners, although gains were limited by figures that showed new US housing starts fell to record lows.<br /><br />The index closed 0.8 per cent, or 35.80 points, higher at 4,482.25, with investors showing no sign of vertigo from the recent hefty rises.<br /><br />&ldquo;Despite the clear incentive to profit take and notions that the markets are getting ahead of themselves, investors remain confident in buying from moves of consolidation,&rdquo; said Joshua Raymond, Market Strategist at City Index.<br /><br />Miners were among the highest risers as copper gained 1 per cent. <strong>Rio Tinto, Kazakhmys, Eurasian Natural Resources, Anglo American, Lonmin</strong> and <strong>BHP Billiton</strong> were up between 1.6 and 7.5 per cent.<br /><br />News that the UKFI aims to sell-off takes in part-nationalised lenders sent the financial stocks higher.<br /><br /><strong>HSBC, Standard Chartered, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays</strong> and <strong>Lloyds Banking Group</strong> added 0.7per cent to 5 per cent.<br /><br />Property investment trusts were also higher from positive sentiment in the financial sector. <strong>British Land, Hammerson, Land Securities Group</strong> and <strong>Liberty International </strong>were up 4 to 5.6 per cent.<br /><br />Life insurers were given a boost by the increase in risk appetite. <strong>Aviva, Legal &amp; General, Prudential</strong> and <strong>Standard Life</strong> added 4.8 per cent to 7.3 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>ICAP</strong> added 5.6 per cent after the world&rsquo;s largest interdealer broker beat forecasts with a 5 per cent rise in annual pretax profit.<br /><br />On the downside, energy stocks were lower as crude fell from a six-month high to trade around $58 a barrel.<br /><br /><strong>BG Group, BP</strong> and <strong>Cairn Energy</strong> were down 0.8 per cent to 2.4 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Marks &amp; Spencer,</strong> which has rallied more than 50 per cent over the past two months, tumbled 8 per cent after it posted an expected 40 percent slide in full-year profit.<br /><br />Peer <strong>Next</strong> slipped 2.1 per cent while other retailers also suffered, with <strong>Tesco, Morrison</strong> and <strong>Home Retail</strong> off between 0.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Vodafone</strong> lost 4 per cent after forecasting flat profits at best for 2010 and announcing a &pound;5.9bn impairment charge.<br /><br />The consensus seems to be that the markets have risen too far too fast recently and that, with clients mostly trading short term positions, the sell-off, when it arrives, is going to be harsh and fast.