- Consumer and banking stocks kept the FTSE in positive territory with the blue-chip index closing 0.4% higher at 7,454.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was marked 1.7% higher to 249.8p and HSBC (HSBA) gained 1.2% to 688.9p.

Barclays (BARC) also rose 1.2% to 199.9p.

Nurofen owner Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) and Ben & Jerry's ice cream seller Unilever (ULVR) were boosted 1.3% and 1% respectively.

Brent crude oil was stable at $45.57 per barrel. Gold fell by nearly 1% to $1,244 per ounce. Copper retreated 0.2% to $5,776 per tonne.


On Wall Street, the Nasdaq opened 0.1% lower at 6,256 as tech stocks were weak.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed 0.1% up at 20,153 today despite a bankruptcy filing by Takata, although this was expected by investors.

Stock markets in Hong Kong and China both closed approximately 0.8% higher.


In corporate news, shopping centre investor Hammerson (HMSO) nudged 0.2% higher to 589.5p on news that the developer of Manchester's Trafford Centre, John Whittaker, gained a 4.6% stake in the firm. He built his stake through his private vehicle Peel Holdings. Whittaker owns 27% of Hammerson's rival Intu Properties (INYU).


Among the mid-caps, Ultra Electronics (ULE) confirmed 'advanced discussions' to acquire Sparton in response to intense media speculation. Shares in the defence firm advanced 2.4% to £20.80.

Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW), which is in the process of being taken over by Wood Group (WG.) agreed to sell its circulating fluidised bed boiler unit for $170m. The oil services firm sold the unit to Sumitomo Heavy Industries to reduce net debt.


Strat Aero (AERO) was the biggest small-cap riser after it nearly doubled revenue to approximately $863,000 last year thanks to its new strategy to maximise revenue opportunities and reduce costs. The stock bounced 47.4% from a low base to 0.1p.

It was good news for Minoan Group (MIN) after it said appeals against the Presidential Decree granting land use approval for its Itanos Gaia project in Crete were dismissed. In response to the news, the stock rallied 17.6% to 10p.

Management Resource Solutions (MRS) saw nearly a third of its value was wiped off to 2.8p. The consultancy services provided revealed details of a claim from the Joint Voluntary Liquidators of MRS Guernsey - a subsidiary of the company that is in voluntary liquidation.

On AIM, oil and gas firm Empyrean Energy (EME) announced it made a gas discovery offshore Indonesia with its Mako South-1 well, sparking a 12% jump in the stock to 7p.

Remaining in the oil sector EnQuest (ENQ) confirmed that first oil from the Kraken development was delivered on Friday.

Flat sales in Europe so far in 2017 for lipstick seller Warpaint (W7L) resulted in an 11.3% slump in the shares to 215p. Elsewhere in the US and other sales territories, sales were more encouraging, but this was overlooked by the market.

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