FTSE passes 6,500 despite bank falls

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Worries over harsher banking reforms proposed by a Westminster commission failed to derail the market yesterday, with the FTSE 100 passing another milestone despite little news to excite traders.

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG, said: “It’s been one of those days that has analysts leafing through the thesaurus to find a replacement for ‘quiet’.”

He said it rather gave the impression of “a market girding itself for the next push higher”.

Even as he spoke the Footsie was putting on a late spurt to claim its first close above 6,500 in more than five years, shrugging off a raft of poor figures from the eurozone to add 20.1 points at 6,503.6.

Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland were among the fallers as the spectre of an enforced break-up of investment and retail operations was raised again by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which also kept up the pressure on the UK government to enforce tougher leverage ratios.

Barclays slipped 7.1p to 311.5p and RBS was 4.9p lower at 301.3p. Lloyds Banking Group, which announced plans for the sale of a 20 per cent stake in wealth manager St James’s Place after the market closed, was down 0.1p at 50p.

Accounting and retail software firm Sage was one of the biggest fallers in the top flight, off 7.5p to 341.9p, after Bank of America downgraded the stock to “underperform”.

Supermarket chain Morrisons moved in the opposite direction, up 5.5p to 268.5p, as investors geared up for the group’s full-year results later this week. It is due to post a fall in profits but sentiment has been buoyed by reports that a renowned fund manager at Invesco has become the largest shareholder with a stake of nearly 8 per cent.

NEW YORK: Wall Street rose modestly last night, lifting the Dow to another record high and giving the S&P 500 its seventh straight advance.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 50.30 points, or 0.35 per cent, to close at 14,447.29, another closing high for the blue-chip index, while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 5.04 points, or 0.32 per cent, to finish at 1,556.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 8.51 points, or 0.26 per cent, to end at 3,252.87.