Banks spark early trading in London


International bank Standard Chartered led the way on the London market yesterday (Weds) after posting a 16% rise in first-half profits.

Despite initially falling back, the London-based Asian specialist rebounded to move 4% ahead after an hour's trading, a rise of 31p to 841p.

Banking stocks followed suit with Royal Bank of Scotland up 31p at 16.31 and Abbey National up 13p at 11.17.

The gains pushed the FTSE-100 Index 9.2 points to 5538.3, helping it recover from an early 23 point fall.

The drop at the start of the session came despite strong gains overnight in the U.S, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged by more than 1%.

Supermarkets were also losing ground, with Sainsbury down 4p to 405p, Tesco off 3p to 248p and Morrisons tumbling 1p to 200p.

Outside the main market speciality chemicals firm Elementis dropped 9%, to 5p to 56p after a 49% drop in first-half profits.

The group blamed high energy costs and tough trading conditions due to the weakness in the U.S. economy.