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Kingfisher races ahead as investors cheer surging Screwfix sales

Published 24/05/2016

The FTSE 100 Index was 30.5 points higher at 6167.8
The FTSE 100 Index was 30.5 points higher at 6167.8

B&Q owner Kingfisher raced ahead as investors cheered surging sales at its trade outlet Screwfix, after it bolstered its product range and opened new stores.

Shares surged nearly 2% on the back of a 16.2% rise in like-for-like sales at Screwfix, helping the wider group to notch up £2.7 billion of sales in the first quarter.

The FTSE 100 Index was 30.5 points higher at 6167.8, as mining stocks rebounded from a slump in the previous sessions to sit among the biggest risers.

Mining giant Anglo American was up nearly 3% or 14.1p to 612.5p after it said diamond firm De Beers - in which it has an 85% stake - was pleased with the stable demand for rough diamonds.

Antofagasta was also up 8p to 439.2p, while BHP Billiton lifted 11.7p to 823.1p despite the price of oil slipping 0.8% to 47.95 US dollars a barrel.

Across Europe, Germany's Dax was up 0.8% and the Cac 40 in France rose just shy of 1%.

The pound rose 0.4% against the dollar at 1.453 after t he Daily Telegraph said its latest survey of 800 people by ORB International gave the pro-EU side a 13-point lead - by 55% to 42% - among those certain to vote.

Sterling was also 0.8% higher against the euro at 1.301.

In stocks, Kingfisher stepped up 6.7p to 367.2p as l ike-for-like sales at B&Q rose 3.6% and chief executive Veronique Laury, who is overseeing a turnaround plan at the retailer, said the results represent a "solid start to the year".

Kingfisher closed 10 B&Q stores in the period as part of plans to shut 65 overall. Across the group, which also operates in France and Poland, like-for-like sales were up 3.6%.

Away from the top tier, Halfords was 2.6p higher at 434.9p after it splashed out £18.4 million to acquire two bicycle firms as part of plans to ramp up its online offering in the premium market.

The FTSE 250 retailer snapped up online company Tredz, along with Wheelies, the UK's largest provider of bicycle replacement for insurance companies.

Chief executive Jill McDonald said she continues to "believe in the long-term growth potential of the cycling market".

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