FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: US jobs surge boosts world equities

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Stronger than expected US jobs growth helped markets end the week on a high while improved economic data from Germany also cheered investors.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 63.47 points or 1 per cent up at 6,742.84 after official figures showed American employers added 321,000 posts last month, the biggest burst of hiring in three years.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “That better than expected employment data – and perhaps more critically the jump in wages – did give the index a little kick, but once again it’s the fact that the heavyweight resource stocks are floundering that’s truly serving to put a lid on gains.”

Mining and energy stocks dominated a shortened fallers’ board, with BHP Billiton off 26p to 1,474p and BP 2.4p cheaper at 424.5p. The US jobs numbers prompted renewed talk of a 2015 rate hike at the Fed, supporting the dollar and weighing on gold. Miner Randgold was down 123p at 4,189p.

British Airways owner IAG topped the risers’ board as it continued to benefit from slumping oil prices. Shares rose 4 per cent, or 20.2p, to 486.7p. Low-cost rival EasyJet climbed 45p to 1,761p.

Meanwhile Vodafone made solid gains, climbing 7p to 230.6p, amid continuing chatter about “quad play” consolidation in the telecoms sector.

House builders continued to flourish as the stamp duty reforms in the Autumn Statement helped shares rise for a third session in a row.

FTSE 250-listed Berkeley was up 91p to 2,596p after it reported better-than-expected half-year results, with pre-tax profits up 80 per cent to £304.9 million.

Balfour Beatty shares were 6 per cent higher, up 10.9p to 195.6p, after it rejected an approach worth £1 billion from John Laing Infrastructure Fund to buy its portfolio of public infrastructure projects.

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