After a moderately indecisive day, Britain’s leading shares closed marginally higher on Thursday,
buoyed somewhat by corporate earnings news and economic data.
Banking stocks were amongst the biggest gainers following full year results from Royal Bank of
Scotland. Although the partly state-owned group reported a full year loss of £766 million and at
an operating level a net loss of £1.8 billion, the earnings were still in line with City expectations.
Investors mainly took heart though from the fact that the banking giant had made good progress
with regards to their balance sheet strength. Shares closed 5% higher at 28.7p.
Also providing support on the day was news from across the pond, as US weekly jobless claims were
static, beating expectations of a small rise. Similarly, data in Europe suggested German business
sentiment was at its highest level since July of last, suggesting corporate entities were beginning to
see light at the end of the Euro-debt tunnel.
Despite news of increased equity market activity and trading volumes the FTSE 100 still could not
quite break away from the narrow trading range it has been in for the last few weeks. The blue chip
index eventually closed 21 points higher at 5938, outperforming its European peers which generally
posted small declines.
Oil remained stubbornly high, edging up further to $123 a barrel as Reuters reported that foreign
diplomats were suggesting Iran was believed to be expanding nuclear activities rather than reduce
its current program, already the source of a forthcoming Oil embargo.