Banks and miners drive FTSE forward

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The FTSE 100 Index was up 32.1 points to 5826.7

Banks and miners drove an increase on the FTSE 100 Index on Thursday as stocks received a boost from overnight gains in America and Asia.

Hopes that the extension of US tax cuts would boost consumption helped Asian markets higher, which put the Footsie on the front foot, up 32.1 points to 5826.7.

Banks littered the risers board, although Asian-focused Standard Chartered slipped 2% or 46p to 1832p despite saying it was on track to achieve record results in 2010.

Investor attentions were also focused on the latest house price data from Halifax, as well as the Bank of England’s monthly decision on interest rates.

Halifax said property prices fell 0.1% during November, but added there were signs the housing market was stabilising – providing a boost to housebuilding stocks.

Persimmon rose 7% or 30.8p to 44.1p, Barratt Developments added 3.9p to 90.6p and Taylor Wimpey gained 1.1p to 29.9p.

The sector had already been buoyed by good news earlier this week from Bellway, which said buyer confidence was returning after the spending review.

Elsewhere, games and music retailer HMV slumped 21% or 9p to 34.8p after reporting widening half-year losses and slashing its dividend.

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