Top-flight shares in London dodged a day of declines on European markets on Tuesday, as the weaker pound and some positive company updates supported the FTSE 100.
The blue-chip index finished the day 9.53 points, or 0.14%, higher at 7,035.85.
Meanwhile, the Eurozone braced for a possible crisis over the Italian budget weighing on sentiment in European markets.
The French Cac was 0.22% lower and the German Dax fell 0.42%.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “The situation in Italy has the potential to trigger another round of the debt crisis, and the last thing the currency bloc needs is softening growth, which was confirmed today.”
On the currency markets, the pound was lower as traders reacted nervously to giveaways in yesterday’s Budget.
Sterling was down 0.51% at 1.119 euros, and versus the US dollar was trading 0.69% lower at 1.270.
Ocado was the biggest riser on the FTSE 100 after the online grocer unveiled details of its deal with US retailer Kroger, several months after it was first announced.
The signing of the agreement was welcomed by investors, after Ocado’s share price declined in the months since the Kroger relationship was announced.
“The contract completion removes a [small] worry that started to build over the stock,” said Bruno Monteyne, senior analyst for European Food Retail at Bernstein.
“Given the pull back in the share price in recent months, without a change to the foreseeable economics and returns of the Ocado platform, we think this release is a timely reminder of the investment opportunity.”
Shares in Ocado rose 39.8p to 840.6p.
Meanwhile, BP more than doubled profits in the third quarter after riding the wave of higher oil prices.
The energy giant said underlying replacement cost profit – the market’s preferred measure – rose to 3.8 billion US dollars (£2.9 billion) over the three-month period, up from 1.86 billion US dollars (£1.4 billion) in the same quarter last year.
The company’s stock was trading 10.8p higher at 546p.
Shares in Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group dropped as it announced a hefty rights issue to fund a proposed takeover of Asian food chain Wagamama.
The Restaurant Group – which also owns Garfunkel’s, Joe’s Kitchen and Chiquito – will fund the deal through a combination of cash, debt and a rights issue as part of the deal worth £559 million.
Shares closed 51.4p, or 17.3%, lower at 245.8p.
Another acquisition announcement came in the form of WH Smith’s takeover of InMotion, a US airport-based retail giant.
The move will double the size of the company’s burgeoning travel business.
Shares climbed 85p to 1,819p.
Oil prices were lower amid concerns that an ongoing trade dispute between the US and China could affect demand.
A barrel of Brent crude was trading at 75.64 US dollars, a drop of 1.5%.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Ocado, up 39.8p to 840.6p, CRH up 82p to 2,293p, Taylor Wimpey up 5.4p to 160.8p, and Berkeley Group up 105p to 3,486p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Reckitt Benckiser, down 298p to 6,313p, Fresnillo down 27.6p to 867.6p, British American Tobacco down 101p to 3,448p and BAE Systems down 14.4p to 508p.
Source : HeraldScotland