WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Stimulus hopes fuel cautious gains

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The London market moved cautiously higher ahead of a potentially big announcement from the European Central Bank.

Precious metals miners were among the biggest risers as the FTSE 100 Index added 6.43 points at 6,659.04. Fresnillo topped the board with a rise of more than 3 per cent, up 31p at 877p.

Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “Hopes of stimulus from both China and the EU have continued to bolster the courage of the ‘risk-on’ traders as they have once again driven the FTSE higher.”

Sports Direct continued the previous day’s momentum set off by analysts at Liberum Capital, who speculated that the firm could go on the acquisition trail in Europe. The shares added a further 14.5p to 907p.

After the market closed, the company put out an announcement saying it had given up seeking shareholder backing for a new “executive bonus share scheme”.

Marks & Spencer was higher on news the company is expanding its operations abroad. Although the move will be costly, investors focused on the potential for higher revenues and the overall positive management outlook such a move requires, pushing the shares up 2 per cent to 469.9p.

Supermarket chain Morrisons was headed in the opposite direction after analysts at HSBC cut their price target for the stock and went “underweight” on the whole sector, which they said was undergoing “the biggest structural change in decades”. The shares were 3.6p lower at 207.2p.

Insurer Resolution was the biggest top flight faller as it compounded recent woes heaped upon it by the financial regulator by going ex-dividend. It was down 15.3p or 5 per cent at 288.4p.

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