LONDON, June 1 Strength in bluechip exporters
helped the UK's benchmark index inch back towards an all-time
high on Thursday and outperform broader European markets where
weakness in banks weighed.
Euro zone stocks rose 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100
, meanwhile, was up 0.5 percent, just shy of a record
high it hit in the previous session.
UK-listed multi-national firms, which dominate the benchmark
index, are big beneficiaries of sterling weakness. The pound has
been under pressure over the past week as some opinion polls
point to a tighter-than-expected race in next week's general
Firms such AstraZeneca and Rolls Royce, which
get most of their revenues from outside the UK, were up more
than 1.5 percent on Thursday.
Shares of Spanish bank Banco Popular fell more than
8 percent, the worst performers on the day, after one of
Europe's top bank watchdogs warned European Union officials that
the bank may need to be wound down if it fails to find a buyer.
Among the larger banks, Deutsche Bank and Credit
Agricole fell about 1 percent. Overnight, U.S.
bellwethers JPMorgan and Bank of America both warned of weak
trading revenues in the second quarter which pulled banking
stocks sharply lower on Wall Street.
Shares of BT Group fell about 1 percent following a
downgrade at Morgan Stanley which raised concerns over the
company's cash flows.
On the flipside, shares of online car retailer Auto Trader
were the best performers on the STOXX 600 after
Barclays upgraded the stock to an "overweight." Shares jumped
6.4 percent to a record high.
Satellite group Inmarsat rose 5.8 percent with
traders attributing gains to reports than Japan's Softbank was
in talks with the firm on a possible tie-up.
(Reporting by Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Toby Chopra)