Belfast Telegraph

London top-flight secures first positive week in a month as confidence returns

The FTSE 100 Index closed up 59.89 points at 7,294.7.

London’s premier index secured its first positive week since January as confidence crept back into global markets following a series of punishing sell-offs.

The FTSE 100 Index closed up 59.89 points at 7,294.7, as a degree of calm returned to trading after last week’s turbulence when interest rate fears sent equity markets into meltdown.

Across Europe, Germany’s Dax was 0.9% higher and the Cac 40 in France rose 1.1%. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 lifted 0.9% and 0.8% respectively.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “The 100 and CAC 40 managed to print levels not seen in over a week, which underlines the rise in market confidence.

“Some traders are cautious … while others are picking up relatively cheap stocks.”

On the currency markets, sterling was down 0.3% against the US dollar at 1.40 following a lacklustre update from the UK retail sector.

British retailers barely scraped a rise in sales at the start of the year as inflation-induced price hikes caused growth to unexpectedly ease.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed retail sales rose 0.1% month on month in January, with economists pencilling in a more optimistic outcome of 0.5%.

The statistics agency pinned the blame on widespread price rises, with sliding food sales being countered by double-digit growth of games, toys and sports equipment.

Versus the euro, the pound was up 0.2% to 1.12.

The price of oil climbed 0.8% to $64.97 a barrel despite traders continuing concerns over too much supply in the market. The rise was driven by the rebound of global equity markets coupled with further weakness from the US dollar.

In UK stocks, property firm Segro was the biggest riser on the FTSE 100, securing a hefty jump in half-year profits thanks to strong demand for its warehouses from internet shopping.

Pre-tax profits more than doubled to £976.3 million last year, with boss David Sleath citing “structural drivers of demand”, including urbanisation and “growth of the digital economy and e-commerce”.

Shares were up 36p to 591.2p, with the overall value of its property portfolio rising 14% during the period to £8 billion, while rental income growth rose by 2.6%.

Balfour Beatty was enjoying a bright session on the second tier after clinching a 1.95 billion US dollar (£1.4 billion) contract to build an above-ground transport system at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

LAX Integrated Express Solutions (LINXS) – whose members include Balfour Beatty, Fluor Corporation, Flatiron West and Dragados USA – will design, build, finance, operate and maintain a 2.25-mile system that is set to connect the LAX central terminal to a yet-to-be constructed rental car facility, six stations and a vehicle maintenance centre.

The so-called “automated people mover” will operate up to nine trains at a time with moving walkways to the terminals and parking garages.

The project is the first major public-private partnership in the US civil infrastructure market for Balfour Beatty Investments, which is a 27% equity owner in the LINXS joint venture. Shares in Balfour Beatty were up 7.1p to 280.5p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Segro up 36p to 591.2, NMC Health up 146p to 3,424p, WPP up 59p to 1,471p, Evraz up 11.1p to 394.6p.

The biggest fallers were Randgold Resources down 138p to 6,306p, Antofagasta down 17.6p to 914.6p, BHP Billiton down 20.6p to 1,577.4p, Carnival down 51p to 4,811p.

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