FTSE 250 index hits an all-time high

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THE FTSE 250 index closed at a record high last night after bumper growth in the manufacturing sector suggested that ­Britain’s economic recovery is gathering pace.

Companies in the mid-tier index generate about half of their sales from the UK, compared with only a quarter for blue-chip stocks in the FTSE 100.

The 1.3 per cent rise from the FTSE 250 pushed it up 188.35 points to 15,061.21, marking the first time that the index has closed above the 15,000-mark in its 20-year history. The FTSE 100 index rose by 60.92 points or 0.9 per cent to hit 6,681.98, boosted by an 8.1 per cent rise from Lloyds Banking Group, which climbed 5.53p to 74p after ­revealing that it is in talks with the Treasury to resume paying a dividend.

Brenda Kelly, senior market strategist at IG Index, said: “The positive economic data coming from all sides should have alone been sufficient to send equity markets to their all-time highs, but a combination of better-than-expected corporate earnings – particularly from the UK financial sector and dovish central banks – has helped give sentiment an extra boost.”

Former Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh has pocketed more than £2 million after being granted 200,000 shares at 952p each under the firm’s 2009 senior executive share option plan, before then selling 190,000 of them for 2,070p each. Scotland’s biggest distiller edged 23p higher to close at 2,077p.

Smart Metering Systems surged 5p higher to 325p after the Glasgow-based gas specialist was named as Dong Energy’s preferred supplier.

Edinburgh-based microchip maker Wolfson notched up a second day of gains – rising 1p to 154p – following its second-quarter results on Tuesday.

In New York, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones both closed at record highs on what was the first day of August trading.

The S&P 500 broke through the 1,700 barrier, closing up 1.25 per cent at 1,706.82, as investors gambled that the Federal Reserve would continue to pump prime the economy. The Dow rose 0.83 per cent, closing at 15,628.02, also a record high.

The Nasdaq composite gained 49.37 points, up 1.36 per cent to close at 3,675.74 in what was a bullish New York.