LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index closed higher on Tuesday, with a late rally in energy stocks on the back of strong crude oil prices outpacing weaker banks, which were led lower by a slump in Standard Chartered (STAN.L).
Housebuilders also lost ground, with Barratt Developments (BDEV.L), Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) and Persimmon (PSN.L) down between 2.4 percent and 5.3 percent. That followed a ratings cut from broker Liberum, which said that valuations were too optimistic to withstand future margin pressure.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE ended 0.3 percent higher at 6,383.61 points, helped by a 3.3 percent jump in the UK Oil and Gas index .FTNMX0530 after oil prices surged following an oil workers' strike in Brazil, the world's ninth biggest producer.
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and BG Group BG.L rose 1.7 percent and 2.7 percent respectively after Shell announced plans for further benefits and cost cuts from its planned $70 billion (45.44 billion pound) takeover of BG.
Brenda Kelly, head analyst at London Capital Group, said that Shell had sought to assure investors that they could make the takeover work, and added: “It seems that investors are taking them at their word for the time being.”
Banks were the biggest sectoral decliners, with the UK banking index .FTNMX8350 falling 0.7 percent, dragged lower by Standard Chartered.
The Asia-focused bank dropped 6.7 percent to 666 pence, the biggest one-day percentage fall in a year, after posting a third-quarter operating loss of $139 million, announcing plans to raise billions of dollars in new capital and scrapping its final dividend for this year.
“The scrapping of the final dividend payment would in itself have been a setback, let alone the overall quarterly loss against expectations of a profit for the period, but these are eclipsed by the announcement of a rights issue which is an admission of the need for assistance,” said Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.
James Blanchett, senior trader at H2O Markets, said his company remained “short” on the stock, anticipating it could touch its September low of around 612 pence.
Short sellers typically borrow shares to sell, anticipating that the shares will be cheaper by the time they need to buy them back to return to the lender.
“We have got another 4 to 5 percent downside potential before we unwind our short positions and book profits,” Blanchett said.
Additional reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Catherine Evans/Ruth Pitchford