THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: FTSE bounces

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The London market rebounded as the prospect of bombing Syria diminished, allowing traders to concentrate on a flow of positive corporate news.

The FTSE 100 Index climbed 52.99 points to 6,483.05, with speculation of a massive sale windfall for Vodafone and better-than-expected results from WPP helping sentiment.

Michael Hewson, senior analyst at CMC Markets, said: “It’s been a much more positive session in European markets, helped in part by the likelihood that any decision on imminent military action in Syria has receded somewhat on the basis that a political consensus may take a little longer to achieve. Upside progress has been limited though as the perception remains that a decision has merely been delayed.”

Vodafone alone added more than 30 points to the FTSE as its shares surged by 8 per cent to twelve year highs when it announced it was in discussions to offload its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless for around $130 billion (£84bn). The shares closed 15.5p higher at 204.75p.

Joining it on the risers’ board was advertising giant WPP after the company announced a 19 per cent rise in first half profits, driven by a better performance in its UK operation. It added 49p or 4.2 per cent at 1,227p.

The fallers board was topped by outsourcing services firm Serco after it emerged after the market closed on Wednesday that the UK government had uncovered potentially fraudulent behaviour in its prison escorting contract.

The controversy overshadowed interim results from the firm which included an 11 per cent rise in pre-tax profits. The shares tumbled 11 per cent or 68p to 538.5p as the group admitted revenues would be hit and new deals delayed.