Barclays leads a strong start for banks on the FTSE on Thursday amid reports it is on the verge of closing the £3bn sale of its iShares business.
As of shortly after 9am, the company had climbed more than 10 points, or 6.53%, to 168p, helping the FTSE to an early 32 point, or 0.82%, advance to 3,958.
Reports suggest lawyers acting for both Barclays and London-based private equity house CVC Capital Partners worked through Wednesday night to complete the sale by the end of today.
Completion of the sale, which will see Barclays retain a near 20% exposure to the iShares unit through warrants, will mark a major step forward in the British bank's efforts to bolster its capital position.
Elsewhere, Lloyds Banking Group was up 3.3p, or 4.6%, to 75p while Royal Bank of Scotland Group advanced 1.2p, or 4.6%, to 27.3p. Mining group Xstrata, up 26.5p to 550.5p, and oil giant Petrofac, up 24p to 579.5p, gatecrashed the top five.
Early losers on the FTSE included software firm Invensys, down 3p to 162p, and Vodafone Group, down 2.1p to 123.6p.
In the US, the Dow Jones closed marginally in the black as the nation awaits news of a widespread stress test of the financial system.
The index rose more 47 points, or 0.61%, to 7,837.11, helped by a near 5% gain for American Express. The banking giant advanced $0.71, or 4.73%, to 15.72.
Elsewhere, Bank of America dived 4% to $7.06, while General Motors continued its slump with a 3.5% drop to $1.93.
Japanese stocks jumped on Thursday after officials proposed a bigger spending plan to reinvigorate the economy. The Nikkei 225 climbed 321 points, or 3.7%, to close at 8,916.06.IFAonline
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