With Angelique Ruzicka, finance editor

On May Day optimists put their heads over the parapet to declare that we are at the end of the bear market after the FTSE 100 jumped to its highest levels in six years.

Anthony Bolton, the renowned fund manager, is reported to have said: “All the things are in place for the bear market to have ended.”

And Robert Parkes, the equity strategist, told the Financial Times: “The markets no longer think we are heading for financial Armageddon.”

So have insurers ridden on the back of this (possibly) permanent recovery and market upswing?

Not all of them – those with life businesses were the ones to benefit this time. Aviva rose by17.98% to 324.75p after it announced in its first quarter results that it had more capital to play with. L&G’s shares rose 12.72%, while Pru’s had a respectable 5.19% lift.

Lloyd’s LSE-listed insurers were not so fortunate but only experienced small drops. Novae’s shares dropped 4.7%, Amlin’s followed by 4.25%, Admiral’s by 3.34% and Hardy’s by 2.17%.

The banks were the ultimate winners. RBS shares soared 30.63% to 43.50p, Barclays jumped by 15.78%, Lloyd’s TSB’s by 11%. Coming in at the rear was HSBC with a modest 1.94% rise.