A successful Spanish bond auction and strong German economic data eased fears over the eurozone crisis and drove world markets higher today.
Sentiment over the state of Europe’s finances was boosted after German business and consumer confidence rose unexpectedly in December and the Spanish government saw its borrowing costs fall in a bond auction.
This helped the FTSE 100 Index rise 54.6 points to 5,419.6 in a late rally despite pharmaceutical stocks acting as a drag after AstraZeneca revealed a twin setback to its pipeline of new drugs.
The drugs giant topped the fallers board with a drop of 44p to £29.05 after it said that olaparib would not progress for further development in the treatment of ovarian cancer, while a potential antidepressant drug is also unlikely to make headway.
Astra’s struggle to develop new blockbuster drugs also impacted on rival GlaxoSmithKline, which fell 5p to £14.45.
Royal Bank of Scotland was down 0.3p to 19.7p after Chancellor George Osborne confirmed plans to force the bank to drastically scale down its investment banking arm and focus on the UK.
Shares in National Express were up 0.5p at 216.8p after the transport group said it had finished the year in “excellent shape” as it reported sales growth across all its divisions.
The biggest Footsie risers were Aggreko up 122p at £19.70, ITV ahead 3.2p at 64.2p, Kazakhmys up 35.5p at 886.5p, and Admiral ahead 33p at 833p.
The biggest Footsie fallers included Essar Energy off 2.5p at 178p and Associated British Foods down 7p at £10.93.
Elaine McLachlan, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Inverness, noted that risers included oil and gas firm Parkmead Group gaining 6.67% to 14.5p and energy services company Wood Group up 4.11% to 646.25p.
Fallers included STV Group down 4.99% at 81p, computer services firm, IndigoVision down 4.55% to 260p and oil and gas engineering firm Plexus Holdings off 3.64% at 79.5p.