Market Report: A very good day for finance companies


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For the first time in a long while, it was a very good day for finance companies on the stock market.

Banks and asset managers added 7.5 points to the bluechip index, the best-performing sector on the day. Traders pointed to a constellation of factors rather than one overriding driver. Aberdeen Asset Management, up 10.1p at 440.9p, set the tone as it started the day with an upgrade from Société Générale. Then strong US job numbers raised hopes of an interest rate rise across the pond, which would benefit the banks.

Finally the day’s top performer, Barclays, up 6.65p at 255.45p, scored an extra boost from news that contactless payments in the UK trebled last year. Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all card transactions in Britain, was the first to introduce contactless cards, back in 2007; it said yesterday that the value of contactless payments on its cards rose 115 per cent last year.

Despite buoyancy in the banking and finance sector, the FTSE dipped 12.49 points to 6853.44, knocked by the downbeat mining sector, which fell by a collective 8.22 points. Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG, said: “Yet again it is the mining sector that has contributed most to the losses, as the tale of oversupply that has caused such woe for the sector rears its head again.”

Tate & Lyle collapsed 91p to 573.5p as the sweetener giant put out its third profit warning in 12 months. The Sucralose maker blamed weak trading at its US bulk sweetener division.

After tumbling in the previous session on weak results, electronics parts supplier Premier Farnell recovered 4.9p to 163p as N+1 Singer urged investors to look again. The broker upgraded Premier Farnell, saying: “Challenges remain and revenue visibility is low but there are encouraging volume trends in Europe and Asia Pacific, while the Americas appear steady.”

Clean Air Power jumped 0.9p to 2.65p on Aim after its dual-fuel engine passed a key emissions test in the US. The rubber stamp from the Environmental Protection Agency means the engine is now fit to run in 49 of the 50 states. John Pettitt, the chief executive, said the decision was a “major hurdle overcome.”