By 10am the FTSE 100
index was up 44 points at 5,746 and the Mid-250 index 130
points to the good at 10,143.
In Europe the German
DAX reversed an early modest fall to trade 87 points higher.
On the economic
front the UK's manufacturing sector saw steady growth in March.
but price pressures rose sharply.
Bank and financial
sectors were well up among the top gainers with Alliance &
Leicester at 540p, HBOS 579p, Barclays 474p, and Lloyds TSB 466p
between 15p and 23p firmer.
had Prudential at 682p and Aviva 633p around 15p better while
Friends Provident added 3.9p to 127.5p amid hopes that the insurer
would bow to pressure and enter discussions with prospective
predator JC Flowers. Collins Stewart has a speculative buy rating
positive trial news on its Crestor cholesterol drug boosted
AstraZeneca 108p to £19.92 and British Airways recovered 5p
to 239p on hopes the Terminal 5 problems will soon be solved.
prices overshadowed oil and mining sectors where Lonmin fell 107p
to £29.64p and Royal Dutch Shell 12p to £16.84, but
Cairn Energy gained 49p to £28.83 on further consideration of
yesterday's Indian reserves update.
A Deutsche Bank
rating upgrade lifted Unilever 52p to £17.51 and other
prominent firm spots included BAT at £19.22, Diageo
£10.38, 3i Group 858p, Next £11.80 and Tesco 385p,
between 6p and 29p higher.
rose 18p to 709p following the sale of its Ravenswood
generating station for £1.5 billion.
statements benefited Vanco at 81.5p, First Property Group 19p, RCG
Holdings 73.5p, Immunodiagnostic Systems 184.5p, AG Barr
£12.10, Babcock International 580p and Lincat 585p, up
5p to 55p and acquisition news benefited Carpetright, 14p
firmer at 776p.
59p to 974p on news it has been selected preferred partner for
enterprise search and high-end information processing by Logica and
Brit Insurance was a good market at 258.5p, up 16.25p.
Afren added 7.5p to
131p following a farm-in deal with Oriental Energy for the Ebok
field offshore Nigeria, but Roc Oil dipped 14p to 90.5p as its
Dunsborough-2 test drill drill results showed that oil may be non
tumbled 35p to 240p after a profits alert
So far share prices
are taking the latest writedowns and cash injections from UBS,
Deutsche Bank and Lehman Bros quite calmly.
By 8.30am the FTSE
100 index was up 14 points at 5,713 and the Mid-250 index 77 points
higher at 10,088.
In Europe both the
German DAX and CAC-40 in France opened around 17 points easier.
Banks made good
progress amid hopes that the credit crunch is at last nearing its
end with Alliance & Leicester at 537p, Barclays 475p, HBOS 572p
and Royal Bank of Scotland 348p between 10p and 23p higher.
Exchange at £12.60 recovered 52p of yesterday's fall on
US competition concerns, while firmer insurances had Friends
Provident up another 2.1p to 125.7p amid growing pressure to talk
to prospective bidder JC Flowers.
to prominence under the lead of Next, 23p better at £11.63
and properties also did well with Land Securities up 21p to
£15.30 following the non-executive board appointments of Sir
Christopher Bland and Rick Haythornthwaite.
Oils slipped with
the crude price, but mining stocks attracted selective support with
VedantasResources up 33p to £534p
comment lifted Unilever 35p to £17.34 and other best top 100
performers included Kingfisher at 135.4p, BT Group 221.25p and
AstraZeneca £19.15, between 3p and 31p up.
Among the smaller
caps Vanco stood out at 79.25p, up 9.5p and Invensys at 235p, up
10p following a positive trading updates and GCap Media advanced
18.75p to 215p on agreeing the 225p-a-share cash offer from Global
A profits warning
knocked 20p from Churchill China at 255p and Land of Leather fell
7.5p to 46.5p as its Concession Sleep depot went into