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Signage seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange August 23, 2018. — Reuters pic
Signage seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange August 23, 2018. — Reuters pic

LONDON, March 28 — London’s FTSE 100 edged higher today, boosted by financials, although gains were capped by energy stocks as oil prices fell on China demand worries and hopes of progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talks.

The blue-chip index rose 0.2 per cent, led by gains in life insurers and homebuilders.

Oil majors BP Plc and Shell Plc fell 0.5 per cent each as oil prices dropped more than US$3 (RM12) after China’s Shanghai entered a lockdown to contain a surge in Covid-19 infections, raising concerns about demand in the world’s largest crude importer.

The domestically focussed FTSE 250 midcap index advanced 0.5 per cent, boosted by travel and leisure stocks.

Carriers like British Airways-owner IAG, easyJet, and Wizz Air gained between 2.5 per cent and 3.9 per cent, while holiday company TUI added 2.8 per cent.

“Europe is probably benefiting slightly from the pullback we’re seeing in energy markets… but ultimately, I don’t feel like positions have massively changed from late last week, which is kind of a sit-and-wait period,” said Craig Erlam, a senior analyst at OANDA.

“I think there’s desire for investors to move back into stock markets, a lot of downside risks have been priced in at this point as far as the situation in Ukraine is considered.”

A senior Turkish official said Ukrainian and Russian negotiators would begin peace talks in Istanbul later in the day. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has insisted on the territorial integrity of his country after earlier suggesting he was ready for a compromise. Read full story

Among individual stocks, Barclays declined 2.8 per cent after the lender disclosed around a £450 million (RM2.4 billion) loss on mishandled bond trades and said this meant it would have to delay a share buyback.

Ted Baker slipped 3.3 per cent after it rejected unsolicited non-binding takeover proposals from private equity firm Sycamore Partners Management for significantly undervaluing the fashion retailer.

Aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce tumbled 11.3 per cent to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after a near 20 per cent surge on Friday. — Reuters

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