Market Report: Strong results from Wall Street stalwarts raise hopes for UK lenders

Banks helped the Footsie to edge higher after the sector was boosted by better-than-expected results from counterparts in the US.

Despite an 11 per cent fall in profit, Goldman Sachs' first-quarter numbers came in ahead of expectations, while Morgan Stanley also beat forecasts with an 18 per cent jump in earnings.

The performance of both Wall Street stalwarts raised hopes that UK lenders will perform better than expected when results for the first three months are delivered in early May. Banks added 9.84 points to the index, with Barclays the best performer, up 8.95p at 246.5p.

Markets were quiet ahead of the long Easter weekend but the blue-chip index managed a 41.08-point gain to 6,625.25.

On the FTSE 250, Thomas Cook was flying after an outlook upgrade from the ratings agency Standard & Poor's. Harriet Green, who has engineered an impressive turnaround at the travel agent since joining in 2012, hailed the news as "another milestone". Thomas Cook added 7p to 171.1p.

Traders were also bargain hunting amid mid-caps, with gains for Close Brothers, up 57p at 1,383p, Ocado, 16.2p better at 350.2p, and Entertainment One, 12.3p higher at 315.6p. All have been trading at a discount.

Britvic was on a tear, adding a hefty 39p to 747p. It marks the second day of strong gains for the Robinsons and J2O maker, sparked by an optimistic missive from Merrill Lynch.

Synergy Health lost 8p to 1,241p after admitting "lower-than-anticipated" revenue growth. It blamed the slowdown on bad weather delaying surgery.

The private-equity firm 3i advanced 5.9p to 379.3p after cashing out £67.6m from the initial public offering of the animal healthcare firm Phibro in the US.

On Aim, the online service contract marketplace blur Group collapsed after admitting that revenue for last year was likely to be almost half what the market expected. Blur dropped 172.5p to 280p.

Haynes, the car manuals publisher, revealed that revenues fell 7 per cent in the third quarter due to "softer conditions" in the UK. The small-cap firm lost 9.5p to 201.5p.

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