TUESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Putin’s speech eases market turmoil

The London market enjoyed afternoon gains as traders judged the situation in the Ukraine was stabilising and results from Sainsbury’s did nothing to pile further pressure on the supermarket sector.

A speech by Russian president Vladimir Putin was viewed as a sign that an escalation of the crisis can be avoided, and the FTSE 100 Index recovered from an initially lacklustre start to finish 36.93 points higher at 6,605.28.

Among those benefiting from the easing of tensions, cruise ship group Carnival was 52p higher 2,433p, a rise of 2 per cent, while Barclays added 5p to 236.05p.

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But outside the top flight shares in Cairn Energy were hammered by news that the driller was halting its share buyback programme as it attempts to resolve a tax dispute with the authorities in India. The stock slipped almost 15 per cent, down 28.3p at 168.2p.

David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “Cairn Energy has put its share buyback scheme on hold, and the vultures are circling the Edinburgh-based oil and gas company.”

Supermarket stocks held firm despite a warning from Sainsbury’s that the sector is growing at its slowest pace in a decade.

The chain broke a nine-year run of sales growth but a decline had been priced in by markets and its shares added 2.5p to 313.9p.

Sainsbury’s figures were not as bad as those from rival Morrisons last week, and were well received across the sector. Tesco added half a penny to 300.25p, and Morrisons was up 2.2p at 209.6p.

Elsewhere, miner Antofagasta tried to draw attention away from its decline in annual profits by ramping up its dividend, but traders saw through the move and its shares were 19p lower at 828.5p.