Belfast Telegraph

FTSE posts strong gains led by Vodafone results

Top flight shares in London rose strongly in early trading, as market heavyweight Vodafone notched up its first growth in full-year revenue and earnings since 2008.

The mobile phone giant saw its shares rise after it posted annual earnings up by 2.7% to £11.6 billion as sales lifted 2.3% to £40.9 billion, boosted by operations in South Africa, Egypt and Turkey.

The FTSE 100 Index lifted 48.2 points to 6199.7, pushed up by results from Vodafone and a series of other positive corporate announcements.

Germany's DAX edged up 0.2%, while the Cac 40 in France was 0.7% higher.

In stocks, Vodafone was up, 5.6p to 229.3p, as the group added that it has concluded its "Project Spring" investment programme, which has seen the world's second-largest mobile phone operator invest £19 billion on network upgrades.

Chief executive Vittorio Colao said: ''This has been a year of strong execution for the group, returning to organic growth in both revenue and EBITDA [earnings] for the first time since 2008."

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey was the biggest riser in the top flight after it upgraded its profit guidance for the year as the firm heralded positive growth in the UK housing market.

It also said that it will pay out a bigger dividend to shareholders in 2017, upping the award 26% to 13.8p a share, totalling £1.3 billion.

Taylor said it would pay a special £300 million dividend in July 2017 and increase its ordinary dividend.

Shares jumped by more than 5%, or 10.1p to 195p.

Developer Land Securities, the firm behind the Walkie Talkie skyscraper in London, was another strong top flight performer, after posting robust full-year trading - but also warned a Brexit vote would "be painful for the property industry".

It said the value of its assets rose by 10.3% to 1,482p a share in the period - while revenue profit, which includes joint ventures, was up 10% to £362 million.

But chief executive Robert Noel said a June Brexit vote over the short term would slow decision-making, drive down demand and lead to falling rents.

However, shares Land Securities lifted 3%, or 33p to 1172p.