London close: European hopes boost Footsie back to 5,900

B.C. | ShareCast | 21 Jul, 2011 16:34 - Updated: 07:25 | | |

London Skyline

London equities rallied to a strong finish - recouping the losses experienced over the last week - on hopes of a solution to the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

At midday, shares offset early losses as reports surfaced that Europe’s leaders have agreed on a new aid package for Greece and an overhaul of the Eurozone sovereign rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Proposals include lowered interest rate charges and an extension of debt maturities, which increases the chances of a Greece default scenario.

The draft statement, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, indicated that the financial sector will choose from a “menu of options” on the various available methods to help finance Greece’s debt, including debt exchanges, roll-overs or buy-backs.

As such, shares in banking stocks raced ahead with Barclays leading the rise, gaining as 10% at one point. The lender closed 7.75% higher at 239.85p. RBS and Lloyds finished 5.7% and 5.9% up, respectively.

Insurance peers Aviva, Legal & General and Prudential were also among the best performers.

DIY retailer Kingfisher, too, was a notable riser despite seeing like-for-like sales fall 0.5% in the second quarter of 2011, compared to the same period last year. However, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that price-cutting by retailers in June helped spark a partial rebound in sales, which grew by 0.3% by value and 0.7% by volume.

Capita was the worst performer after half-year turnover and profit before tax came in a shade below market expectations at the outsourcing behemoth.

Brewing giant SABMiller fell into the red despite growing lager and soft drinks volumes by 5% in the first quarter, helped by strong growth in developing markets.

Miners Xstrata, Lonmin and Rio Tinto were under the weather as China’s manufacturing PMI dropped to a 28-month low.

Meanwhile, on the FTSE 250, a decline in revenue recorded by communications and information technology firm Colt and car parts and bike retailer Halfords disappointed investors but failed to sway the mid-cap stock index lower. Colt announced a 3.5% reduction in revenues in the first half of the year, mainly driven by a decline in mobile termination rates, while Halfords, which saw group sales rising 0.3%, reported a 1.1% drop in retail sales.

Giving a boost to the index was kitchen supplier Howden Joinery after profit for the half year increased by £1.9m as expectations for the year remain unchanged. Pre-tax profit rose to £23.5m in the 24 weeks to 11 June 2011 from £21.6m the same time a year earlier. Group revenue rose to £341.7m during the half year from £324.7m previously.

Russian gold miner Petropavlovsk’s production update also pleased investors. Petropavlovsk recorded a 32% rise in total gold production in the first half of the year and said it was on track to achieving its target of 600,000 ounces of gold for the year.

BC

FTSE 100 - Risers

Barclays (BARC) 239.85p +7.75%

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 47.56p +5.90%

Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 36.05p +5.69%

Kingfisher (KGF) 267.40p +5.61%

Aviva (AV.) 420.00p +4.19%

Inmarsat (ISAT) 529.50p +2.62%

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) 237.80p +2.46%

Legal & General Group (LGEN) 117.20p +2.45%

Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 285.80p +2.44%

Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,629.50p +2.36%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

ARM Holdings (ARM) 601.00p -1.64%

Capita Group (CPI) 686.00p -1.58%

Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 289.10p -1.57%

Weir Group (WEIR) 2,122.00p -1.35%

Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) 1,404.00p -1.34%

British Land Co (BLND) 596.50p -1.08%

Serco Group (SRP) 551.00p -1.08%

Xstrata (XTA) 1,350.00p -1.06%

Lonmin (LMI) 1,309.00p -1.06%

Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,376.50p -1.00%

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