London equities reversed early losses to move into positive territory on Wednesday as financial stocks bounced back following Tuesday’s sell-off and a fresh wave of takeover speculation boosted the power sector. The FTSE 100 rose 0.9 per cent to 5,704.2, shrugging off losses from Marks & Spencer, down 1.1 per cent at 540p, and Boots Group, 2.2 per cent lower at 715½p, as the stocks began trading without further rights to their latest dividend payment. The FTSE 250 gained 0.7 per cent to 9,299.1. Financial stocks fared well, with Barclays rising 3 per cent to 607p, Standard Chartered rising 2.4 per cent to £13.16 and Royal Bank of Scotland putting on 1.8 per cent to £17.29. Elsewhere power companies were in demand as renewed bid speculation energised the sector on news that US power company NRG rejected a $8bn offer from rival Mirant. International Power climbed 4.3 per cent to 286¾p and British Energy rose 3.5 per cent to 690p. Scottish & Southern Energy rose 1.5 per cent to £11.04 after the utility posted robust full-year numbers. Corus Group edged 0.2 per cent higher to 382¾p after the steelmaker reported a fall in first-quarter profits.
In fixed income markets, UK Gilts remained unchanged at 4.557% in early
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