Belfast Telegraph

FTSE hits year-high on back of China economic news

The London market surged to a new high for 2016 as global markets raced ahead following strong economic data from China.

The FTSE 100 Index was up 1.9% or 120.5 points to 6,362.89 after Chinese exports rose 11%, brightening the outlook for global trade.

Across Europe, Germany's Dax climbed 2.7% and the Cac 40 in France rose 2.9%. In the US, the Dow Jones was up 0.9%.

Banks and commodities stocks led the charge in the UK, with Barclays rising 7% and Standard Chartered soaring 10%, while miners Anglo American and BHP Billiton stepped up 11% and 9% respectively.

The oil giants also remained strong despite the price of oil slipping 1% to 44.23 US dollars a barrel. Royal Dutch Shell and BP both climbed more than 2%

The pound was down 0.4% against the dollar at 1.42, as the US currency held up despite an economic update showing American retail sales fell last month.

However, sterling was up 0.5% against the euro at 1.25.

The surge from commodity stocks overshadowed a dismal day's trading for supermarket giant Tesco.

Britain's biggest grocer saw its shares tumble 7.8%, as it tempered good news on its turnaround plan with a warning that its investment in price cuts would slow its profit improvement, "particularly in the first half".

The company announced that it had guided the business back to profit and unveiled its first UK quarterly sales rise for more than three years.

It posted bottom-line pre-tax profits of £162 million for the year to February 27 against losses of £6.3 billion the previous year - the worst on record for the firm and one of the biggest losses in UK corporate history.

Elsewhere, Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods also plummeted as its takeover tussle with McCormick & Company came to an abrupt halt after the American spice giant pulled out of its pursuit.

McCormick said it was "not able to propose a price that would be recommended by the board of Premier Foods" after completing due diligence on the company.

Shares in Premier Foods dropped more than 26%.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said there were still threats on the horizon, despite the FTSE 100 closing at its highest level for a year.

He added: " The last two months have seen a turnaround in fortunes for the UK stock market, after a miserable start to the year. Strong performance from oil and mining shares has been the key driver of the rebound in the Footsie, on the back of a recovery in commodity prices.

"Looking forward there are still risks out there. China is continuing its transformation from a manufacturing-led economy to one focused on the consumer, the UK will shortly be going to the polls to decide whether to remain part of the EU, and central banks in the US and UK will at some point have to start raising interest rates."