Trading on the London market was subdued today, with the FTSE 100 Index closing just two points ahead at 5,827.8.
Ongoing fears over Spain and Middle East tensions involving Syria and Turkey kept the market in check, while attention was also focused on the monthly policy decisions of central banks in the UK and Europe.
Among stocks, the spotlight was firmly on Halfords after its resurgent sales performance. The company’s shares jumped 14% higher after investors cheered news of better-than-expected trading and the arrival of a new boss at the helm.
The car parts and leisure goods chain soared to the top of the FTSE 250 Index risers board, up 37.5p to 303.5p.
Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays were both higher, up 1.7p to 259.8p and 2.3p to 222.6p respectively, but Tesco fell for the second session in a row, down 9.8p to 318.2p.
The update from Halfords and another from fellow FTSE 250 company, Ted Baker, helped lift spirits among top flight retail stocks. Next set the pace with a rise of 3% or 93p to £35.92, while B&Q owner Kingfisher added 4.2p to 268.7p and Marks & Spencer cheered 3.7p to 365.5p.
Fashion chain Ted Baker was 7.5p higher at 921p after it posted a 10% rise in underlying profits.
The biggest Footsie risers included Weir Group ahead 38p to £18, Tate & Lyle 12.5p higher at 687p and Intercontinental Hotels up 30p to £16.69.
Among the biggest Footsie fallers were Xstrata off 20.1p to 948.3p, Johnson Matthey 48p lower at £23.69 and Lloyds Banking Group down 0.8p to 38p.
Steven McKay, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted that Stagecoach jumped 1.14% to 291.9p and Petrofac finished the day 0.57% higher at £15.98.
On the faller’s board, Xcite Energy closed 5.22% lower at 110.125p, BP lost 1.1% to 434.2p and AMEC slipped 0.87% to £11.40.