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FTSE rebounds to a two-week high

Monday, August 18 17:05:49

Britain's top share index climbed to a two-week high today, with sentiment improving on relief that a feared escalation in the Ukraine crisis had failed to materialise.

Tensions spiked on Friday when Ukraine said it had partially destroyed an armoured column that had crossed the border from Russia, triggering a sell-off in global shares. But Moscow made no threat of retaliation, describing the report as a "fantasy".

The blue-chip FTSE 100, which rose nearly 1 percent on Friday before erasing gains to end flat, finished 0.8 percent higher at 6,741.25 points on Monday.

The FTSE volatility index, a gauge of investor sentiment, shed 19 percent - the biggest one-day drop in 19 months in a further sign of calm returning, at least for now.

"An easing of geopolitical tensions in Ukraine has aided investor sentiment. The potential for further talks and a possible ceasefire appears to remain," Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Keith Bowman said.

Russia's foreign minister said on Monday that objections to Russia sending a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine had been resolved during talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in Berlin on ways to end the conflict.

He said there had been no progress towards a ceasefire between the government and rebel forces in east Ukraine.

Lee Armitage, senior trader at Accendo Markets, said that sentiment improved on signs that the conflict may not escalate in the near term after both the parties had talks, with Germany and France acting as mediators.

However, some traders said they maintained a cautious approach, mindful of Friday's market swing which saw a near 1 percent rise on the UK benchmark wiped out.

"We are not overly confident that a rally will be sustained. Geopolitical risks at the moment are just too high," said Mark Ward, head of trading at Sanlam Securities. "We will be looking to sell into the strength."

Among big movers, chip designer ARM Holdings rose 2.6 percent as Goldman Sachs added to some recent positive broker comment on ARM, which sells blueprints for chip designs and receives royalties on every chip shipped by partners. (Reuters)

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