UK and European stocks edged higher on Wednesday (9 March), although they relinquished some of their gains towards the end of the session as equities failed to build on a rally in oil prices.
London's FTSE 100 closed up 0.34% to 6,146.32, followed in the black by its European counterparts. Germany's Dax gained 0.31%, while both France's CAC 40 and the Pan European Stoxx 600 rose 0.49%. Oil prices reversed Tuesday's losses and moved higher, with West Texas Intermediate gaining 3.21% to $37.71 (£26.56, €34.23) a barrel, while Brent crude rose 2.70% to $40.75 a barrel.
Investors jittery ahead of ECB meeting
However, the gains in oil prices did not translate in a rally on the stock market, as investors remained cautious ahead of a press conference from the European Central Bank (ECB), scheduled for 10 March, in which the bank is widely expected to push its deposit rate further into negative territory and to expand its quantitative easing programme.
"A 3% rally in oil has not been accompanied by the usual bounce in stock markets, which is perhaps a testament to the caution inspired by the ECB meeting tomorrow [10 March]," said IG's senior market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
"Oil inventories were up again, while production flatlined, but markets opted to just look at the drawdown in gasoline stockpiles. Cherry picking of data has long been a theme in stock markets, but now commodities appear to be playing along too."
Prudential gains ground, Burberry tumbles
On the company front, Prudential led the risers on the FTSE 100 after announcing a special dividend and lifting its ordinary dividend as profits rose in 2015.
Shares in energy provider SSE also gained after analysts at JP Morgan upgraded their rating on the stock to "overweight" from "underweight", citing a "diversified, defensive, cash-generative business mix".
At the other end of the scale, Burberry all but relinquished the previous session's gains as it fell sharply after analysts at HSBC cut their rating to "hold" from "buy".
Meanwhile, on London's second-tier index, Restaurant Group plunged over 20% after delivering a downbeat outlook, while G4S tumbled after its profit for 2015 fell sharply on the back of restructuring costs.
FTSE 100 - Top 5 risers
FTSE 100 - Top 5 fallers
Burberry Group -6.77%
Barclays - 2.06%
Standard Chartered -2.07%
Aberdeen Asset Management -1.70%
St.James's Place -1.36%
FTSE 250 - Top 5 risers
Cairn Energy +13.15%
Tullow Oil +3.54%
Allied Minds +3.00%
Wizz Air Holdings +2.67%
NMC Health +2.37%
FTSE 250 - Top 5 fallers
Restaurant Group -22.28%
Mitchells & Butlers -7.83%