LONDON: UK shares climbed on Tuesday, aided by signs of progress in talks between Russia and Ukraine to end their weeks-long conflict, while Barclays hit a three-week low following a discounted stake sale.
The blue-chip index ended 0.9% higher, with financials HSBC Holdings and Prudential and consumer stocks Diageo and Unilever providing the biggest boosts.
Investor sentiment was lifted after Russia’s deputy defence minister said Moscow had decided to drastically cut military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv in Ukraine, after talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiating teams in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, Ukraine proposed adopting neutral status in exchange for security guarantees at the latest round of talks with Russia, meaning it would not join military alliances or host military bases, Ukrainian negotiators said.
“Looking at the breakdown of the FTSE 100 today, all sectors have done well apart from energy and materials, which is not all that surprising given that a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine ought to see lower energy and commodities prices while the boost to risk sentiment should boost all other sectors,” said Stuart Cole, head macro economist at Equiti Capital.
Further advances were capped by a pullback in oil majors BP and Shell, both down over 1.9% after oil prices dropped, extending losses from the previous day.
Meanwhile base-metal and precious metal miners dropped 2.0% and 1.1% respectively, tracking weaker metal prices.
The domestically focussed midcap FTSE 250 index advanced 2.0%, boosted by a 4.4% jump in travel and leisure stocks.
Among stocks, Barclays Plc fell 2.5%, after one of its top investors offloaded a $1.2 billion chunk of stock in the lender at a discount overnight.
Polymetal surged 39.5% after the Russian precious metals producer said it was considering various options to boost shareholder value, as the Ukraine crisis batters its shares.