Prudential was the top blue-chip gainer, closing up 5.5 per cent or 58p at 1,118p, while Aviva added 9.2p or 2.8 per cent at 334.7p.
Elsewhere within financials, Aberdeen Asset Management ended a torrid week down 1.7 per cent on the day at 415.7p, taking its weekly loss to almost 11 per cent, after being downgraded by Bank of America Merrill Lynch to “underperform” following a target price cut by UBS earlier in the week.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 1.2 per cent, or 75.88 points, at 6,411.99 in the wake of news that 175,000 US jobs were added in May.
It showed that employers were still hiring at a steady pace despite government spending cuts and higher taxes, but at a rate that was modest enough that the US Federal Reserve was likely to maintain the rate of its monthly bond purchases.
Matt Basi, at CMC Markets, said: “Traders speculated that the improving employment backdrop might prompt the Fed to pull back from their QE programme.
“We’re probably no wiser now than we were this morning when it comes to guessing the timescale on the Fed’s tapering plans, but the afternoon bounce comes as welcome relief to our clients, who have been taking a more bullish view over the past 48 hours.”
In the FTSE 250, housebuilders enjoyed gains after Bellway provided further signs of a pick-up in the housing market. Its shares climbed 19p to 1,334p after it said it had seen average weekly reservations jump by nearly a third since the beginning of February and prices rise 5 per cent to £200,300.
NEW YORK: The S&P 500 ended a two-week losing streak last night as US jobs data eased anxiety that the Federal Reserve may be reducing its stimulus programme in the near future.
The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 207.50 points, or 1.38 per cent, to close at 15,248.12 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 20.82 points, or 1.28 per cent, ending at 1,643.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 45.16 points, or 1.32 per cent, to finish at 3,469.22.