ML said in a note.
Fellow financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown, however, was the biggest FTSE 100 faller, shedding 2.4 percent, with traders citing some uncertainties for the sector ahead of Wednesday's half-yearly budget update from finance minister George Osborne.
Osborne faces the tough choice of either announcing more spending cuts or delaying his debt target.
British media reported on Sunday he was poised to announce plans to cap the pension benefits of high earners, alongside a reining in of the welfare budget, which could impact financial services groups.
"It's going to be a relatively dour message from Osborne ... It'll be a reminder of the tough conditions for Britain as the austerity measures bite. For that reason we would favour being exposed to U.S. markets, and high-beta Europeans rather that the UK for the time being," Henk Potts, market strategist at Barclays Wealth said.