Banks help London market back into the black
Britain's banking giants helped drag the London market back into the black, with shares soaring at Barclays after it announced a bumper rise in profits.
The FTSE 100 Index rallied back from a near 60-point slump in the previous session, but failed to break through the 7,000 mark, trading up 28.48 points to 6,986.57.
Barclays was the biggest riser on the top-flight index as it drove home a 35% rise in pre-tax profits to £837 million in the third quarter.
Shares were up more than 4%, or 8.7p to 190.5p, with c hief executive Jes Staley stating that the lender was still in the midst of selling down and disposing of its hinterland businesses in order to focus on its US and UK operations.
However, the bank said it would have to set aside an extra £600 million to meet compensation claims for mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) in the third quarter, bringing its total provision over the past two quarters to £1 billion.
Lloyds Banking Group was also helping to prop up the market after investors sweetened to its third quarter results announced on Wednesday.
Underlying profit for the third quarter came in 3% down at just under £2 billion.
The update was followed on Thursday by the announcement that t he Government had reduced its stake in Lloyds to less than 9% following a share sale.
Shares were up just shy of 3%, or 1.6p to 57.5p.
Across Europe, Germany's Dax was marginally ahead at 0.07% and the Cac 40 in France was down 0.02%.
On the currency markets, the pound flirted with growth in the morning session before retreating against the dollar and the euro.
Sterling had risen to 1.226 against the US dollar immediately after the latest growth figures revealed that the UK economy had bucked expectations of a substantial slowdown in the first three months after the Brexit vote.
The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product grew by 0.5% in its first estimate of third-quarter growth, down slightly from 0.7% in the second quarter, with economists pencilling in a steeper fall of 0.3%.
However, the pound gave up its gains to trade 0.5% lower against the US dollar at 1.216 and 0.5% down against the euro at 1.115.
The price of oil was 1.3% higher at 50.65 US dollars a barrel amid reports that energy ministers from Saudia Arabia had told Russia that it would be willing to cut its output by 4%.
In UK stocks, telecoms giant BT was struggling to make headway despite announcing a second-quarter boost to revenues and profits.
The group said adjusted revenue rose 1.1% to £6 billion, while pre-tax profit grew 24% to £873 million.
But shares were down 2% or 8.4p to 379.3p amid concerns over the company's pension deficit, which widened from £6.2 billion in June to £9.5 billion.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Barclays up 8.7p to 190.5p, Lloyds Banking Group up 1.6p to 57.5p, ITV up 4.7p to 172.1p, Sky up 19.5p to 820.5p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Barratt Developments down 37p to 438.9p, AstraZeneca down 162.5p to 4,614.5p, Wolseley down 143p to 4,210p, Provident Financial down 77p to 2,964p.