- Brexit uncertainty continued to dog the pound, boosting the relative value of the FTSE 100's overseas earnings while a recovery in oil prices boosted BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

Due to their weighting these firms have a big bearing on the trajectory of the index of leading UK shares and it closed 0.5% higher at 7,038.95.

This strong showing was in contrast to the performance of the US S&P 500 which was down 0.6% to £27.28 after enjoying big gains yesterday.

A clean bill of health from the Bank of England's stress tests last night helped lift the banking sector, Royal Bank of Scotland rising 0.8% to 221.8p.


Real estate investment trust Intu Properties crashed 39.9% to 116p after a consortium backed by Peel Group, Olayan and Brookfield Property walked away from a £2.9bn deal to take the company private. Shares in other investors in retail property like Land Securities and Hammerson were also under pressure.

Shares in miner Rio Tinto climbed 1.7% to £36.27 after revealing it will develop its most technologically advanced mine after the approval of a $2.6bn investment in the Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australia.

Equipment rental giant Ashtead announced Geoff Drabble will step down as chief executive on 1 May, and retire from the group on 30 November 2019. Investors marked the shares 4.1% higher to £17.98.

At consumer goods colossus Unilever, there was also change at the top after CEO Paul Polman announced his retirement from the company, leaving the stock broadly unmoved at £42.61.

Pub operator Greene King reported Christmas bookings were well ahead of last year with first-half profits rising thanks to a 'strong' performance in Pub Company and Brewing & Brands. Shares in Greene King fizzed 5.4% higher to 535.2p.

Payment services specialist Paypoint sparked 7.8% higher to 857p after pre-tax profit increased 4% to £25.2m in the six months to 30 September, partially driven by an improvement in VAT recovery.

Used car marketplace BCA Marketplace revealed more vehicles sales at higher prices helped pre-tax profit accelerate 30.9% to £45.7.9m in the half year to 30 September. The shares were 1.4% higher to 224p.


OptiBiotix Health rose 4% to 97.2p on an exclusive license deal allowing Nutrilinea to produce, package, and supply SlimBiome Medical in Europe.

At market close:

[LON:INTU] Intu Properties share price was -77.32p at 115.28p

[LON:RBS] Royal Bank of Scotland Group The PLC share price was -3.7p at 216.4p

[LON:RDSB] Royal Dutch Shell share price was +14.25p at 2397.25p

[LON:ULVR] Unilever PLC share price was -106p at 4152p

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