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Europe: Britain's FTSE edges up but financials falter after ECB meeting

[LONDON] Britain's top share index ended the session higher on Thursday with most sectors in positive territory with the exception of financial stocks, which suffered, alongside the rest of their European peers, after the European central bank reaffirmed its ultra-easy policy stance.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.6 per cent following three days of losses.

Banking stocks, which are sensitive to interest rates as well as bond yields, sustained heavy losses like HSBC, down 4.1 per cent.

Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Chartered and Lloyds all down between 0.4 to 1.3 per cent.

RSA Insurance went down 1.7 per cent while Provident and Prudential took more limited hits (0.2 per cent).

Mining stocks BHP Billiton also posted a significant fall on the index as it traded ex-dividend.

Imperial Brands led a rise in defensive, consumer-focused companies. Shares in the tobacco firm jumped nearly 2.8 per cent after it sold part of its stake in Spanish logistics company Logista.

Outside of the blue chips, a flurry of results saw some sizeable individual moves among British mid cap stocks, with shares in Bovis Homes rising more than 10 per cent to their highest level in more than two years after the housebuilder reported its half year results, and broker Numis upgraded the stock to "buy" from "add".

"The strategic review is being done at pace and tangible benefits will start to be delivered from H2 2017 onwards and this will result in much improved ROE (return on equity),"analysts at Numis said in a note. "Bovis is returning excess capital to shareholders which we forecast will lead to it being the highest yielding stock in the sector," Numis analysts added.