THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: Markets boosted by ceasefire plan

Leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany were in Belarus for peace talks. Picture: AP

Leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany were in Belarus for peace talks. Picture: AP

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Positive news flow both at home and abroad helped markets make gains even though the Footsie was weighed down by ex-dividend stocks.

The FTSE 100 started cautiously as Greece and its creditors failed to agree a way forward in talks the night before, but closed 9.94 points higher at 6,828.11.

London’s more domestically-focused second tier, the FTSE 250, jumped 176.82 points to 16,809.42 after the Bank of England upgraded its growth forecasts and said low inflation would be good for UK workers and consumers.

Tony Cross, market analyst, Trustnet Direct, said: “Despite an apparent lack of progress at the Eurogroup meeting, there’s a degree of optimism in play right now – the reality is that some kind of compromise will have to be reached over the Greek debt deal and that announcement of a ceasefire in Ukraine is also cheering sentiment, even if there’s a sizable risk that it won’t actually hold.”

Drinks bottler Coca Cola HBC, which is exposed to both Greece and Russia, was the biggest riser as shares jumped more than 6 per cent, up 68p at 1,159p.

Miners were also in the ascendant as copper prices staged a recovery and Rio Tinto unveiled a move to boost shareholder returns.

The company’s annual results showed a 9 per cent drop in earnings to $9.3 billion (£6.1bn) but this was offset by a 12 per cent increase in its full-year dividend and a plan to buy back $2bn of shares.

Rio Tinto shares were 68p higher at 3,039.5p, with other mining stocks on the front foot including Anglo American with a gain of nearly 4 per cent or 42p, to 1,165.5p and Antofagasta ahead by 15p at 705.5p.

And with the price of a barrel of Brent crude climbing to just under $59, exploration firm BG Group was up 19.7p to 934.4p while Tullow Oil edged 0.5p higher to 385.1p.

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