Barclays led London's blue chips higher after it pleased the City with plans to slash 14,000 jobs in 2014 across the group as it aimed to become a 'leaner, stronger' bank. Shares in the company were up 7.2 per cent to 260.75p at 15:05 on Thursday.
In what it described as a "bold simplification" of the group, Barclays said it planned to cut 7,000 jobs from its Investment Bank by 2016, as part of a wider restructuring, which will see the bank focus on four core businesses; Personal and Corporate Banking, Barclaycard, Africa Banking and the Investment Bank.
After falling initially, supermarket chain Morrison bounced back to second in the leaderboard, recovering much of Wednesday's share price losses, as investors were encouraged by bullish tone of its first-quarter statement. The grocer held on to its full-year targets despite a 4.2% drop in total sales and a 7.1% fall in like-for-like sales. Chief Executive Dalton Philips said its March price-cutting strategy was "on track" but would "take time for their full impact to be felt".
BT's new TV sport channels underpinned record fourth-quarter consumer revenues, helping the UK telecoms group to ring up higher annual profits and its shares
to rise 2.6% by mid afternoon. BT said its BT Sport and ESPN channels helped the group's consumer division to lift fourth quarter revenue by 9% to £1.07bn and register the lowest landline losses in more than five years. The company is upping recruitment in the UK to handle new customer demand.
Despite a decline in profits that was below some analyst expectations, investors seemed cheered by Standard Chartered's first-quarter update. On a constant currency basis, operating profits declined by a "mid single-digit percentage" and the outlook was for difficult conditions to persist. While earnings performance in the short term is still likely to be mixed, broker Killik stated the emerging market bank looked "close to resuming its growth potential". Shares in StanChart were up 2.2% by mid afternoon.
Going the other way were shares in Sage, the accountancy software player, after long-running boss Guy Berruyer surprised by announcing he planned to retire by March 2015. This seemed to far overshadow a 5% increase in half-year revenue, driven by strong growth in software subscriptions.
Energy company Centrica, owner of British Gas in the UK and Direct Energy in the US, was another notable faller as it downgraded guidance for full-year earnings. Milder weather hit consumption in the UK downstream business, with a highly competitive supply environment adding further headwinds. Full-year UK residential energy supply revenue is expected to be around 10% below 2013 levels and post-tax margins are expected to be around 4% this year.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Barclays (BARC) 260.75p +7.17%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 197.50p +3.51%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 407.10p +3.27%
Old Mutual (OML) 208.60p +2.71%
BT Group (BT.A) 386.90p +2.68%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 448.30p +2.61%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,017.00p +2.52%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,310.00p +2.30%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 891.50p +2.29%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 330.80p +2.13%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sage Group (SGE) 389.70p -7.65%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,519.00p -3.91%
Centrica (CNA) 318.50p -2.54%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,390.00p -2.18%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,211.50p -1.09%
SSE (SSE) 1,530.00p -0.97%
G4S (GFS) 247.90p -0.92%
Fresnillo (FRES) 812.50p -0.91%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,214.00p -0.90%
Meggitt (MGGT) 478.40p -0.89%