Stronger than expected third quarter results from Friends Provident and yesterday's strong gains in ...
Stronger than expected third quarter results from Friends Provident and yesterday's strong gains in New York helped push the FTSE 100 index up 18 points to 4,152 this morning.
FP gained 9p to 135p after reporting strong growth in sales, making it the top gainer, closely followed by Prudential, up 17p to 475.5p after yesterday announcing it was jumping on the MVA bandwaggon and raising the penalties for withdrawing funds from policies.
Aviva is up 15p at 513p.
The battle to take over one of Australia's leading miners MIM has again boosted Xstrata shares today - they are up another 20p to 675p.
GlaxoSmithKline has jumped 33p to £13.67 after analysts at Lehman Bros. raised the target share price to £14.50.
Engineering and manufacturing stocks came under pressure after further news on the global asbestos problem.
One of Europe's leading industrial firms ABB said its asbestos liabilities exceeded assets, which led to investors selling down Invensys 2.75p to 64.25p in London this morning - ABB and its peers are big customers of Invensys.
Safeway had a poor morning after reporting a slowdown in second quarter sales growth, and its shares dropped 5.25p to 209.25p.
Mid-cap stocks are performing better this morning with the FTSE 250 index up 16 points to 4,413.
Debenhams reported a surge in sales, helping its share price gain 35.5p to 294.25p.
The news also rubbed off on peer Selfridges, which gained 8.5p to 260.5p.
However, investors again got cold feet about the future of Aberdeen Asset Management, which shed 2p to 42.5p after reports that it is to be linked to new evidence of mis-selling of split capital investment trusts being presented to a committee of MPs today.
Strong gains by leading US firms yesterday helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average gain more than 215 points to close at 8,538.24 points, which takes gains over the past two weeks to more than 1,100 points.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index fared less well earlier today, dropping nearly 290 points to 8,689.39 on poor earnings figures in the technology sector - Mitsubishi Electric and TDK slumped more than 8% each.
This caused Hong Kong stocks to fall too, and the Hang Seng index is down more than 50 points at 9,510.
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