- Banking stocks including Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds (LLOY) continued to rally, while the pound rebounded by 0.4% against the dollar to $1.26.

The blue chip index gained 0.3% to 1,173.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil retreated by 1% to $52.64 and $54.87 per barrel, respectively.

Gold cheapened 0.6% to $1,202 per ounce and copper was stable at $5,952 per tonne.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones both closed 0.5% higher, while Asian stocks were on a roll.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped by 1.4% after data revealed that exports in the country increased for the first time in over a year.


Copper miner Antofagasta (ANTO) impressed investors with a 13.8% rise in fourth quarter production and a better-than-expected 20% reduction in cash costs for 2016 overall.

Its peer BHP Billiton (BLT) confirmed production guidance for all commodities except copper with record iron ore output from West Australia.

Fresnillo (FRES) failed to rally as news of record silver and gold production was undermined by delays in implementing a turnaround plan.


Frankie & Benny's owner Restaurant Group (RTN) fell by 10.6% to 310p as a post-close update revealed like-for-like sales growth declined by 5.9% in the fourth quarter. It implied the transformation programme launched last year was yet to have an impact.

Global newsagent and book flogger WHSmith (SMWH) took advantage of its captive market through its travel division as its full year profit growth is expected to be ahead of guidance.

Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone (MCS) was upbeat as year to date reservation were ahead of its prior year and contributed a further £206m of revenue to the firm's order book.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS owner Centaur Media (CAU) was one of the biggest small cap movers following its upbeat trading update. The company started the new financial year with recurring digital subscriptions 10% higher compared to last year.

Kennedy Ventures (KENV) delayed the installation of its new milling circuit to March as a result of required improvements to boost water retention at its new plant. The stock slumped 14% to 13p.

Fitness tracker firm Fitbug (FITB) slumped 28.3% to 0.19p after it announced a £1m placing at 0.2p.

Self-tanning firm InnovaDerma (IDP) clarified that its heads of agreement with PROS International for distribution was not made into a definitive contract. It informed the market that the minimum revenue expected from the deal was not reached, marking the shares 10.7% lower.

Listings brand Time Out (TMO) reported positive trading in the second half of its financial year with management expecting revenue to be higher than anticipated.

Generic pharmaceutical products manufacturer Beximco (BXP) sealed a joint venture with BioCare in its first overseas manufacturing collaboration.

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