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FTSE firm as Barclays readies axe over 'casino'

FTSE firm as Barclays readies axe over 'casino'

(Update) Just one day to go before Barclays (BARC.L) unveils its strategic review and investors remain hopeful that chief executive Anthony Jenkins will effect real change at the bank while improving profitability.

Barclays edged over 3p or 1.1% higher after weekend reports that Jenkins plans to cut 2,000, or one in 10, jobs at its 'casino' investment banking division and close a controversial tax avoidance unit. The moves should save £2 billion.

Shares in the bank have advanced 15% so far this year and are up nearly 29% over one year.

With Hong Kong, China and Japan closed for the Lunar Holiday, a lack of overnight momentum saw the FTSE 100 start quietly but soon resumed its upward drive, rising 28 points or 0.4% to 6,291.

European markets were flat with the FTSE Eurofirst 300 virtually unchanged at 1,161.

Miners led the way in London after fresh evidence on Friday of China's recovering economy buoyed the commodity stocks. Evraz (EVRE.L) jumped 11.4p or 3.9% higher to 300p and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC.L) gained 11.3p or 3% to 388.8p. 

Tesco (TSCO.L) gained 6.4p or 1.7% to 369p after Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the supermarket group to ‘neutral’ from ‘underperform’.

Chip designer Arm Holdings (ARM.L) slipped 2.3% or 21p to 897p to be the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, with portable power plant provider Aggreko (AGGK.L) off 1.5% or 24p at £15.64.

The pound edged back on currency markets trading 0.5% down at $1.5719 against the dollar while the euro gained 0.8% to nearly 85.2p to the single currency. The yen strengthened 0.6% to 93.2 to the dollar.

Gold weakened 0.3% to $1,662 an ounce.

Kofax on the 'naughty step'

Kofax (KFX.L) tumbled 12.7% or 40p to 279p after the provider of business process management solutions warned full-year results would be lower than expected. George O'Connor, technology analyst at Panmure, slashed his forecasts and downgraded the stock to 'hold' from 'buy'. He commented: 'Our scenario of Kofax being the "market turnaround for 2013" seems unnecessarily starry-eyed. The shares will remain on the naughty step at least until the final results and so for investors there is little reason to revisit for the next six months.'

Rolls Royce (RR.L) added 3p or 0.3% to 979p after winning a $97 million contract with the US Air Force.

Rio Tinto (RIO.L) edged 4p to £36.62 after an Australian regulator ruled it did not need to share its iron ore rail lines with rivals.

Essar Energy (ESSR.L) rose 5p or 3.5% to 146p after India's second largest private refiner reported firmer margins in the third quarter.

Monitise (MONI.L) firmed half a penny to 34.5p after the mobile payments systems provider launched in Indonesia and half-year results showed an increase in software revenues. However, there was no news on when it might break even.

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