Some much-needed cheer was brought to the market by Lloyds Banking Group, as traders welcomed the lender’s better-than-expected earnings.
The state-backed bank said profits rose 21 per cent in the first quarter and the figures were lauded by the market, with shares ending the day up 5.49p at 82.87p – a surge of 7.1 per cent.
Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “Without exposure to an investment banking arm, Lloyds is seen as being somewhat insulated from the regulatory burden that’s being faced by others in the sector.”
Fellow bailed-out group Royal Bank of Scotland, which disappointed the market on Thursday, edged up 1.3p to 339.8p, while challenger bank Virgin Money closed up 5p at 399.2p as the firm increased its share of the UK’s declining mortgage market.
Other financial stocks on the rise included Esure, up 9.5p or 4.4 per cent at 227.7p, and rival insurance group Admiral, which ended the session 38p higher at 1,596p.
The positive mood helped the FTSE 100 Index gain 25.32 points to finish the week at 6,985.95, with the mining sector on the up despite meagre growth in China’s manufacturing sector.
Anglo American jumped 60p, or 5.4 per cent, to 1,165p, while Vedanta Resources was not far behind with a rise of 28p, or 4.5 per cent, to 656.5p.
However, housebuilders were under pressure as jitters increased ahead of next week’s general election. Barratt Developments fell 6p to 513.5p, Persimmon dipped 9p to 1,691p and Bellway ended the day 23p lower at 1,969p.
Outside the top flight, shares in model railway firm Hornby rose 1.5p to 90p following a trading update in which the owner of the Scalextric and Airfix brands reported “significantly improved” sales growth.