FTSE 100 follows European peers to six-month high

The FTSE 100 jumped to a new six-month high on Tuesday as investor sentiment improved across European markets.

London’s top flight rose to 7,469.92, up 33.05 points, or 0.44%.

The German Dax and French Cac each also reached highs for the period, as investor appetite continues to be boosted by a number of factors.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC markets UK, said: “The fact that Brexit has been delayed, and the European Central Bank are willing to launch another round of targeted lending later this year, has helped investor appetite.

“US-China trade talks have been moving in the right direction recently, and that has been a factor too.”

Wall Street also opened in a bullish mood, as the S&P 500 surged to its own six-month high, buoyed by improvements in US-China trade talks. The Dow also saw a boost.

The pound slipped in the afternoon, despite steady unemployment figures, dropping 0.4% against the US dollar to 1.304 and 0.3% down against the euro to 1.156.

In company news, shares in JD Sports closed higher after the company hailed a record year for revenues despite the UK’s continued high street crisis.

The group reported a 49.2% increase in annual revenue to £4.7 billion for the 52 weeks to February 2, coming in at the higher end of market expectations. Meanwhile, profit before tax was up 15.4% to £339.9 million. Its stock hit a record high of 576.6p, after it jumped up 44.6p.

Elsewhere in retail, Card Factory’s 3.3% rise in full-year revenues also chimed well with investors, after posting figures it described as “robust despite a tough consumer environment”.

Nevertheless, it also reported an 8.3% decline in profit before tax to £66.6 million for the year to January 31. Shares were up 17.7p at 194.8p.

Construction firm Galliford Try saw shares slump after it issued a profit warning and announced plans to undertake a strategic review.

Shares plummeted 149p to 576.5p, after it said the review would result in reduced profitability in the current year – it anticipates a fall in full-year profit of between £30 million and £40 million.

The chairman of takeover target Provident accused suitor Non-Standard Finance (NSF) of “unlawful” activity and urged shareholders to take no action over the “dreadful deal” on the table.

Patrick Snowball said in a letter to shareholders that NSF’s £1.3 billion offer for the firm resembles “more of a coup d’etat than a hostile takeover”. Shares rose 0.8p to 516.8p.

A barrel of Brent crude oil was up 0.08% at 71.3 US dollars.

In Europe, the French Cac was 0.36% higher and the German Dax was up 0.67%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were St James’s Place, up 30p at 1,117p, WPP, up 24.4p at 909.6p, Prudential, up 46.5p at 1,748p and Hargreaves Lansdown, up 57p at 2,205p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Modi, down 45p at 1,759p, DS Smith, down 6.8p at 352.3p, Centrica, down 2.05p at 107p, and Compass Group, down 28p at 1,725p.

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