US helps Footsie snap losing streak

LONDON FTSE 100 CLOSE 5,071.68 +25.21

LONDON'S benchmark FTSE 100 index held on to gains yesterday to break a four-day losing streak.

The Footsie closed 25.21 points higher at 5,071.68, as Wall Street provided some much needed support after a lacklustre trading session in London.

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America's Dow Jones industrial average overcame a jittery open, while the FTSE 100 was also helped by a bounce back from embattled BP and heavyweight miners.

Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets, said: "Equity markets have remained becalmed, either due to depression because of England's dreadful performance against Germany, or because of a lack of any clarity from this weekends G20 meeting.

"It could well be that any new impetus will have to wait until this Friday's US jobs report, ahead of the long weekend in the US, but the predominant theme seems to be one of 'risk off', with gold back near all time highs against the dollar."

Many banks faltered in a subdued start to the week, despite news that world leaders at the G20 summit at the weekend planned to give the sector plenty of breathing space before introducing harsh new capital limits.

Asian-focused Standard Chartered dented sentiment after revealing a strong performance in the first half of the year, but signs of fading momentum in recent weeks. Shares were off 32p to 1,710p.

Part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland was also down 1p to 43.5p, although an upgrade for fellow taxpayer-backed player Lloyds Banking Group saw the firm add 1.2p to 55.4p.

However, it was a successful day for the pound, which reached a 19-month high against the euro on speculation that eurozone debt woes would leave the continent fiscally weaker than the UK. Sterling later stood 0.9 per cent higher at over €1.22.

BP was once more in the spotlight as it revealed that it was now stopping more than 24,000 barrels of oil a day from leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, with reports indicating the group might even plug the leak within two weeks.

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The stock, which said clean-up costs were now approaching 2bn, was up about 3 per cent at one stage on hopes of quicker than expected progress on relief wells for the Gulf of Mexico spill crisis, but later pared back gains to stand 3.65p up at 308.25p.

Premier Oil was striding ahead however, surging more than 7 per cent after it revealed the success of an exploration operation in the North Sea.

Premier's shares jumped in the FTSE 250 after it emerged the Catcher prospect off the coast of Scotland had the potential to be one of the region's biggest oil discoveries of recent years.

The firm, which has a 35 per cent stake in the exploration project, rose 7 per cent or 84p to 1,266p, while lead operator Encore Oil jumped 17.25p to 52.75p.

Elsewhere, shares in social housing firm Connaught tumbled by another 37 per cent - down 80p to 135p - after Friday's warning that Chancellor George Osborne's savage emergency Budget would hit revenues and profits. Going the other way was engineering consultant Scott Wilson, which jumped 132.5p to 252p or 112 per cent on prospects of a bidding war for the business