Life insurers led the charge on Wednesday, while oil services companies were the main drag on the London equity markets.
News from Prudential drove the insurance gains as it announced plans to split its UK and Europe business. The UK business, M&G Prudential, and the international business, keeping the Prudential name, will both be listed in London.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets predicted the Asian business will also be split from the US business when US life valuations recover, and that asset manager M&G will be split from the UK insurance business down the line.

In a sum of the parts valuation, RBC said the spun-off M&G Prudential was worth around £9.8bn, taking account of the fact that M&G manages Prudential's insurance assets, which are not growing.

Wood Group and Petrofac led the oil services decline, although crude oil prices were fairly flat, with Brent at $64.55.

Concerns about oversupply were the likely cause, with oil producers group OPEC stating they expect American output to rise again this year as tighter production from its group and Russia offset by US shale producers taking advantage of the firmer price. OPEC now expects US oil production to increase by 2.7% this year, up from 2.3% last year.

Top performing sectors so far today

Life Insurance 8,955.77 +2.08%
Automobiles & Parts 10,020.44 +1.61%
Tobacco 45,442.46 +1.53%
Construction & Materials 6,236.92 +1.31%
Mining 18,131.95 +1.17%

Bottom performing sectors so far today

Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution 12,699.26 -1.76%
Food & Drug Retailers 3,320.62 -1.33%
Oil & Gas Producers 8,029.98 -1.29%
Industrial Transportation 3,577.15 -1.06%
Banks 4,341.95 -0.97%