WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Positive results propel stocks higher

Lucky Strike maker British American Tobacco was one of the biggest top-flight gainers. Picture: TSPL

Lucky Strike maker British American Tobacco was one of the biggest top-flight gainers. Picture: TSPL

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Blue-chip stocks were pushed higher by a string of well-received results as traders looked ahead for clues on the timing of an interest rate hike in the US.

Lucky Strike maker British American Tobacco was one of the biggest top-flight gainers, rising 129p or 3.6 per cent to 3,680.5p after better-than-expected first-half figures. Profits fell 6 per cent to £2.5 billion, but rose 1.3 per cent with currency movements stripped out.

That helped the FTSE 100 Index close 75.72 points higher at 6,631, adding to the previous session’s 50-point gain as it fought back from a five-day run of losses sparked by heavy falls in Asian markets on fears of China’s economic slowdown.

Attention also focused on the other side of the Atlantic, where the US Federal Reserve was due to announce its latest thinking on rates after the City closed.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “As long as the Fed signals it’s still eyeing a rate hike in its statement, the euro should remain weak versus the dollar and keep European equities buoyant.”

Barclays was another riser, adding 5p to close at 284.6p as it posted a 25 per cent jump in first-half profits, although the banking giant – which recently ousted chief executive Antony Jenkins – took a hit of more than £1bn to compensate customers over issues such as mis-sold payment protection insurance.

In a busy day for corporate results, GlaxoSmithKline rose 46p or 3.5 per cent to 1,374.5p as its second-quarter results came in ahead of City forecasts, despite core operating profits falling 4 per cent to £1.35bn.

Satellite broadcaster Sky recovered from earlier falls to finish 8p higher at 1,132p as it posted higher annual earnings, with the group hailing an “outstanding period of growth” amid an increasingly-crowded market for pay TV, broadband and phone services.

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