THE FTSE 100 Index pulled out of its nosedive today after big gains for market heavyweights AstraZeneca and BP steadied investor nerves.
The top flight, which is about to complete its worst quarter since the start of last year, slumped 3% yesterday on worries about the imminent repayment of loans made to banks by the European Central Bank.
Other signs that the global economic recovery may be in danger because of austerity measures forced the FTSE 100 below the 5000 mark, although it recovered today to stand 11.9 points higher 4926.1.
The mood was helped by a rise of 10% for AstraZeneca after the pharmaceuticals giant won a three-year battle over its Crestor cholesterol drug which will keep cheap rivals at bay in the US until 2016. Shares jumped 313.5p to 3260.5p, while fellow blue-chip stock GlaxoSmithKline added 9.5p to 1132.5p.
BP was second on the top flight risers board as broker speculation about the prospect of a bid from ExxonMobil lifted the beleaguered UK company 4% or 12.4p to 315.3p.
Outside the top flight, shares in housebuilders were under pressure after Nationwide said the average cost of a property crept ahead by just 0.1% in June.
Taylor Wimpey fell 1.3p to 27.1p while Redrow slipped 5.7p to 113.5p and Persimmon dropped 14p to 347p.
Resolution was the leading riser in the FTSE 250 Index, up 7.8p to 68.1p as its shares traded for the first time since its deal to buy the UK life and pensions operation of Axa.
It was followed on the way up by social housing firm Connaught, which has tumbled since a warning on Friday that George Osborne’s emergency Budget will hit revenues and profits. Shares, which were at 325p last week, rose 6.4p to 113.6p today.