London’s blue-chip ticker ended Wednesday higher for a fifth successive session after financial stocks put weaker energy stocks in their place.
The FTSE 100 index closed up 0.2% at 6866 – a fresh 14-month high.
The UK insurance sector was the powerhouse for the bourse, with Prudential (LON:PRU) closing up 2.3% at 1,424.30p after reporting operating profits rose by a larger-than-expected 9% to £2.06bn boosted by rapid growth in Asia. It said it was well placed to deliver both growth and cash.
But the buoyant interim earnings were tarnished by the company’s suggestion it is mulling moving its funds from London to either Dublin or Luxembourg, according to a Reuters report. The move would be part of the insurer’s efforts to maintain access to the European Union's single market after Britain's vote to leave the trading bloc.
But wherever the Pru manages its funds from, it is evident that the insurer’s business growth is now focused on Asia.
But the oil sector nursed losses after Brent Crude dropped by 1.7% to $44.20 after an unseasonal growth in crude stockpiles offset the second-biggest weekly draw in US gasoline this summer.
Data showing Saudi Arabia pumping oil at record high volumes in July added to worries about a global crude glut.
US crude inventories gained 1.1 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 5, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported, in a third straight week of builds that surprised the market. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 1.0 million-barrel crude draw instead.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 index edged 0.07% higher to 17,699 on Wednesday.
Revenues at G4S rose 3.2% to £3.5bn, and the company said it had won £1.4bn of new contracts. Investors were also relieved that G4S maintained its dividend, as there had been speculation it would be cut.
Shares in the company behind the Peppa Pig children's TV character, Entertainment One (LON:ETO), closed up 9% at 237p after it said it had rejected a 236p-a-share takeover offer from ITV plc (LON:ITV). The broadcast network ended up 0.6% at 199.83p.
But the smallest stocks struggled on Wednesday. The FTSE AIM 100 Index ended down 0.3% at 3,725 while the FTSE AIM All-Share Index was flat at 776.
A total of 33% of London shares gained, 29% fell and 38% were unchanged.
London’s blue chips marked time with the holiday season in full swing and trading levels subdued.
A flat start was also predicted for Wall Street with no major economic news expected today.
FTSE 100 shed seven points to 6,844 with falls evenly spread across the board.
RR’s cash position has improved said the broker, which was sufficient for its price target to rise to 780p from 655p.
Randgold Resources (LON:RR.) was also going well on the back of a jump in the gold price on news that the Bank of England’s bond-buying plans had flopped and the UK had joined the growing club of countries with negative bond yields.
Randgold rose 180p to 8,675p while the gold price spiked US$13 per oz.
Shares rose 10% to 238p or higher than the mooted 236p approach.
Another junior miner, Ironridge Resources (LON:IRR), jumped 17% to 15.8p on plans to buy a stake in a company with gold interests in Chad.