UK stocks advanced on Friday, poised to finish at their highest levels in two weeks, after the Scottish people voted in favour of the Union in a crucial independence referendum.
Some 55.3% of Scots voted 'no' to independence from the UK while 44.7% voted 'yes', erasing concerns about a break-up which have weighed heavily on market sentiment in recent weeks.
Companies with their headquarters in Scotland saw their shares
rise strongly, helping the FTSE 100 to advance 0.7% to 6,866 by midday. The benchmark index has not closed above this level since 4 September.
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the result, saying he was "delighted". "So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward," he said.
According to economist George Buckley from Deutsche Bank, the British establishment will be "breathing a collective sigh of relief […] with sterling and equity [markets] rallying modestly this morning".
However, he said that despite the 'no' vote, there are still some thorny political issues" to resolve, including Westminster's promise to devolve powers to Scotland on taxation and spending and calls for Scottish MPs to be stripped of their powers to vote on English-only affairs.
"If this is something that proves difficult to address (it has been debated since the late 1970s so a swift solution may be tricky to engineer) then the Prime Minister may be under threat from a back-bench revolt," Buckley said.
In other news, US stock futures were making decent gains ahead of the opening bell, helped by the news that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has priced its initial public offering at $68 a share, the top of the expected range. The company's Wall Street debut is set to be the largest in history.
Scottish stocks rise, miners fall
Scotland-based RBS, Lloyds, Aberdeen Asset Management, Standard Life and SSE were all on the rise in morning trade. RBS and Lloyds had warned shareholders last week that they would have to redomicile in England if Scots voted in favour of independence.
Oilfield services groups such as Petrofac, Wood Group, Enquest and Amec were also putting in decent gains after the Scottish referendum. An independent Scotland had the potential to make a big impact on the North Sea oil industry.
However, the heavyweight mining sector was limiting the upside on UK markets with Randgold Resources, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Anglo American among the worst performers. Randgold was extending losses made the previous session after gold prices touched an eight-month low.
Inkjet, laser and thermal printing group Domino Printing rose strongly as it reported that underlying growth in the core business was 9% in the 10 months to the end of August.
Shares of aerospace, defence and security technology group Chemring were given a boost after Canaccord Genuity lifted its rating from 'sell' to 'hold' and hiked its target price from 160p to 225p.
Meanwhile, SABMiller was higher after Nomura upgraded the brewing group from 'reduce' to 'neutral' and raised its target for the shares from 2,850p to 3,600p.
techMARK 2,877.90 +0.96%
FTSE 100 6,866.03 +0.69%
FTSE 250 15,920.25 +1.26%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 367.80p +2.97%
St James's Place (STJ) 718.00p +2.57%
Hammerson (HMSO) 612.50p +2.17%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 1,088.00p +2.16%
IMI (IMI) 1,325.00p +2.16%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 1,085.00p +2.07%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 1,056.00p +2.03%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,731.00p +2.00%
3i Group (III) 393.90p +1.99%
Schroders (SDR) 2,491.00p +1.92%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,387.00p -0.97%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 400.50p -0.82%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,752.00p -0.79%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,478.00p -0.77%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,205.00p -0.76%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,810.00p -0.36%
TUI Travel (TT.) 383.10p -0.23%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,377.00p -0.22%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,395.00p -0.18%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Domino Printing Sciences (DNO) 588.00p +6.04%
Laird (LRD) 310.20p +4.87%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 227.00p +4.66%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,365.00p +4.60%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,093.00p +4.49%
Hiscox Ltd (CDI) (HSX) 668.50p +4.29%
esure Group (ESUR) 238.40p +4.10%
IP Group (IPO) 229.90p +3.79%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 449.00p +3.62%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 426.80p +3.62%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 218.90p -1.84%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 572.50p -1.80%
Fenner (FENR) 344.10p -1.69%
Soco International (SIA) 423.10p -1.44%
Playtech (PTEC) 721.00p -1.23%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 270.50p -1.21%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 96.65p -1.18%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 114.50p -0.95%
Afren (AFR) 103.70p -0.67%
Telecity Group (TCY) 746.50p -0.67%