Belfast Telegraph

BP's return to profit helps lift FTSE 100 Index

Oil major BP helped the London market swing back into the black, while sterling pushed higher as traders cheered a surprise surge from the UK manufacturing industry.

The FTSE 100 Index closed up 46.11 points to 7250.05, with shares in the energy giant racing ahead after cost-cutting efforts and rising oil prices inspired a return to profit in the first three months of the year.

Shares in BP were up more than 1%, or 7.1p to 449.6p, with t he group recording replacement cost profits of 1.4 billion US dollars (£1.1 billion) for the first quarter against losses of 485 million US dollars (£377 million) a year earlier.

Bob Dudley, group chief executive of BP, said the year had "started well" for the group.

Across Europe, Germany's Dax was 0.6% higher and the Cac 40 in France rose by 0.7%.

Global financial markets are now expected to turn their attention towards the US Federal Reserve's interest rate decision on Wednesday.

On the currency markets, the pound brushed aside reports of a fractious Brexit meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mrs May insisted "a lot" of the leaked account of a difficult Downing Street dinner between the two sides was "Brussels gossip".

But she acknowledged the negotiations were going to be tough after a detailed account in the German press of their meeting suggested Mr Juncker left fearing the negotiations would end in failure.

Instead, the pound took its cues from the latest UK manufacturing data, which saw output jump to a three-year high in April as new orders were boosted by strong demand at home and abroad.

The closely watched Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed a reading of 57.3 last month, up from a four-month low of 54.2 in March and above economists' expectations of 54.

It comes despite the Office for National Statistics revealing on Friday that the UK economy had grown by a worse-than-expected 0.3% for the first three months of the year.

The UK currency was up 0.3% against the US dollar at 1.291 and 0.1% higher versus the euro at 1.183.

In contrast, oil prices were struggling to make headway as reports of higher output in the United States, Canada and Libya exacerbated concerns over the global production glut.

Brent crude was down 0.8% to 51.10 US dollars a barrel.

In UK stocks, drugs giant Shire rallied higher after revenues doubled following its Baxalta takeover.

The company reported a 109% jump in total first-quarter revenues to 3.57 billion US dollars (£2.76 billion), the bulk of which came from the Baxalta business that Shire snapped up for 32 billion US dollars (£21 billion) last year. Shares were up 114p to 4,651p.

Away from the top tier, Ocado rose more than 5% amid speculation it could be in line for a lucrative home delivery deal with Marks & Spencer.

The two retailers are reportedly set to launch talks in the coming weeks, helping push M&S into online grocery shopping and delivery for the first time.

Shares in Ocado finished up 14.5p to 265.5p, while M&S rose 4.2p to 370.8p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Intertek up 134p to 4,200p, Standard Life up 10.1p to 374p, Barratt Developments up 15.5p to 595p, Worldpay up 8p to 308p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Antofagasta down 29.5p to 808.5p, Fresnillo down 41p to 1,411p, Anglo American down 27.5p to 1,079p, Randgold Resources down 145p to 6,660p.

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