| 12.5°C Belfast

FTSE 100 hits four-month high as oil prices rebound


The FTSE 100 Index lifted 51.5 points to 6405

The FTSE 100 Index lifted 51.5 points to 6405

The FTSE 100 Index lifted 51.5 points to 6405

London's top-flight index has reached a fresh four-month high as European markets surged on the back of rebounding oil prices and cheer over the eurozone economy.

The FTSE 100 Index rose above 6400 for the first time since early December , closing 51.8 points up to 6405.4.

Oil prices regained their poise after hefty falls in the previous session, with benchmark Brent crude up 3% to more than 44 US dollars a barrel.

The cost of crude fell sharply on Monday after a key meeting of oil producers in Qatar ended in stalemate.

Indices across Europe rallied strongly after a better-than-expected economic sentiment report for Germany and the wider eurozone, with the Dax in Frankfurt up 2.3% and France's Cac 40 1.3% ahead.

In London, commodity stocks raced to the top of the pack, with Anglo American leading the charge, up 58.9p to 752.5p, while Glencore rose 11.9p to 169.9p.

The firmer oil prices also handed a fillip to BP, which rose 2% or 7.2p to 362.9p.

Primark owner Associated British Foods enjoyed strong gains after posting a 4% rise in half-year pre-tax profits to £466 million despite a 3% drop in earnings at its fashion chain.

The company said like-for-like sales at Primark were broadly flat year on year, with warm weather across Europe hitting performance.

Shares in AB Foods rose 66p to 3413p.

Elsewhere, Saga was 2.7p higher at 200.6p after it posted a 55% surge in annual pre-tax profits to £176.2 million, although the previous year's results were hit by £50 million in costs from its 2014 stock market flotation and other debt and borrowing costs.

On an underlying basis, group earnings increased 5% to £238.8 million, boosted by an impressive performance from its cruise ship and holidays arm.

FTSE 250-listed aerospace and defence components maker Meggitt was also on the front foot, up more than 6% or 24p to 413.2p, after it said trading in its quarter to the end of March was in line with expectations, with group revenue up 1%.

Retirement home builder McCarthy & Stone saw shares fall 0.7p to 256p in the second tier despite revenues jumping by a third as it sold more properties at a higher price.

The Bournemouth-based firm said revenues stepped up 33% to £250.2 million in the six months to February 29, driven in part by a 19% jump in legal completions to 923 units.

Online property portal Zoopla saw shares rise as it stepped up the pressure on market rivals by snapping up an estate agency software firm for £75 million.

The company said the takeover of the Property Software Group (PSG) will be a "game-changer" in the industry, as it will gain access to back-office software used in 8,000 estate agency branches across the UK.

The firm has bought the business from LDC - the private equity arm of Lloyd's Banking Group - which backed a £17.8 million management buy-out by PSG from the Guardian Media Group in 2013.

Shares were up 1.7p to 279p.

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Anglo American up 58.9p to 752.5p, Antofagasta up 34.6p to 492.8p, Glencore up 11.9p to 169.9p, and BHP Billiton up 48.1p to 964.5p.

The biggest fallers were Mediclinic International down 33p to 900.5p, Paddy Power Betfair down 195p to 9330p, TUI down 19p to 1046p, and Marks & Spencer down 7.7p to 434.8p.