WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: World Bank upgrades boost FTSE

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The FTSE 100 rallied close to its autumn highs after the World Bank gave an upbeat assessment of economic prospects in developed markets.

The index closed 53 points or 0.8 per cent higher at 6,819.86, as London traders took heart from new highs being hit by markets on the Continent.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC, said: “The extra impetus would appear to be as a result of the decision by the World Bank to upgrade its growth forecasts for developed markets for 2014 and 2015, though some fairly upbeat trading statements have also helped.”

Burberry was among the best performers, with shares hitting their highest levels since October after the fashion house reported better-than-expected sales growth of 12 per cent. The stock added more than 4 per cent, up 68p at 1,537p.

The biggest blue chip riser was miner Anglo American, as an upgrade from broker UBS helped it bounce off recent lows. It was 70p higher at 1,332.5p.

Other strong performances were seen in the insurance sector as Edinburgh-based Standard Life rose 8.8p to 385.9p on the back of a broker upgrade from Credit Suisse. Rival Prudential added 27p to 1,377p amid positive comments about the sector.

But energy suppliers SSE and Centrica were among the heaviest fallers after Barclays warned of an “inevitable” margin squeeze as political pressure was likely to limit the consumer price hikes needed to offset declining consumption and other cost pressures. Perth-based SSE fell by 29p to 1,320p and Scottish Gas-owner Centrica slid 11.5p to 315.5p, as Barclays said margins would be under pressure whatever the outcome of the next general election, and downgraded the pair to “underweight”.