Banks were the kings of the stock exchange today after their shares received a valuable thumbs up.
Barclays closed up 3.6 per cent at 157.40p, no doubt buoyed by Exane BNP upgrading it to outperform from neutral.
[stockChart code="BARC" date="2016-08-08 12:22"]
Barclays was the second-highest riser in the FTSE 100, following fellow bank RBS, which closed up 3.7 per cent at 184.70p. Late afternoon, an RBS regulatory filing revealed Baroness Noakes, a non-executive director in the company, along with Colin Noakes, a person closely associated with her, jointly purchased 20,000 ordinary shares.
Clearly the confidence investors had for the two lenders has been contagious. Standard Chartered closed up 1.7 per cent at 649.4p, HSBC up 1.2 per cent at 537p and Lloyds Banking Group up 2.6 per cent at 54.55p.
The situation is similar across Europe as a whole. The STOXX Europe 600 Bank index, which tracks the market fate of 48 banks across Europe, traded up 1.4 per cent on a daily change basis, or 3.3 per cent when measured on week to week, and, at one point during the day, reached the highest level it had been all month.
However, a wider glance at the STOXX Europe 600 Banks index acts as a stark reminder that times have not been kind to the sector as of late. Even after today's good fortune, it is still 26 per cent lower than it was a year ago.