The FTSE 100 index gained about 12 points to 4,396 this morning as insurance stocks surged when Aviva said it would beat expectations on operating profit.
The stock added 29.75p, or nearly 6% to 529.25p.
Legal & General added 3p to 100.25p, while Friends Provident gained 3.75p to 142.75p.
Royal & Sun Alliance gained 2p to 96.25p, and Prudential added 9.25p to 495.25p.
Reckitt Benckiser added 20p to 1,372p after Moody’s Investors Service raised its rating on some $100m of the company’s debt to ‘A3’ from ‘Baa1’.
Allied Domecq rose 6p to 445p after JPMorgan raised its target shareprice on French Competitor Pernod Ricard.
ITV fell 3p to 133.5p after a downgrade by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
Vodafone is down 2.25p to 132p on expectations the company will sell its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless in order to raise the cash to bid outright for AT&T Wireless in the US.
Shell is down 4.75p to 353.75p as the company’s shareholders mull comments by its chairman that the joint ownership structure between Shell Transport and Trading of the UK and Royal Dutch Petroleum could come to an end after a century because of the fallout from falsely stated proven oil reserves.
The FTSE 250 index is up about 19 points to 6,065.
EMI has bounced 11.75p to 243p as competitor Universal Music has reported slipping US market share.
De La Rue, the printer of bank notes, is up 10p to 310p after Camelot, the lottery syndicate of which it is a part, yesterday announced the launch of a new pan-European game expected to bring in up to 2 billion euros in bets each week.
Cattles, the sub-prime lender, is up 10.75p to 337.75p on yesterday’s interest rate hike.
Earler today, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index had one of its best days in the past month as it added 278.66 points to 13,309.60 on gains by the property and retail sectors. Retail sales in December were more than 6% up on the same period one year earlier, new figures suggest, while share price targets on property stocks have been raised as investors see solidity in rental prices in the territory.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 3.68 points to 10,460.92.
Retail had a big part in yesterday’s 24.81 points gain to 10,495.55 by the Dow Jones Industrial Average index, as Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer, reported better than expected January sales figures.
IBM may fall when US markets open later today, however, after overnight news its Korean chief executive resigned because of a bribery scandal. That has not hurt Korean indices such as the Kospi 100, which today traded up 10.75 points at 839.70.
The S&P 500 index added 2.07 points to 1,128.59, while Nasdaq’s Composite index added 5.42 points to 2,019.56.IFAonline
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