LONDON’S FTSE 100 Index outpaced other European markets today after a strong session boosted by property and commodity-based stocks.
The performance reflected relief at a bigger-than-expected rebound in lending figures in China, easing worries fuelled by recent cooler retail sales and manufacturing growth figures for the country.
The benchmark FTSE finished 72.4 points higher at 6,736, a three-week high and in contrast to the flat showing by the Dax in Frankfurt and Cac-40 in Paris. US markets were closed for a public holiday.
Mining stocks played a big part in London’s impressive rally, with Anglo American up 2 per cent or 32.5p to 1,552p and Randgold Resouces 83p higher at 4,857p after another upward session for the price of gold.
Property firms British Land added 15.5p to 680p and Land Securities gained 20p to 1,064p.
Fresh from the appointment of former RBS chief executive Stephen Hester as its boss, RSA Insurance continued to do well as its shares improved another 2.35p to 98.2p. RBS was 9.2p higher at 351.8p.
Shares improved despite disappointment from Japan, where it emerged the economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of last year, compared with forecasts for a rise of 0.7 per cent.
Recent slower growth in China and other major Asian markets has taken a toll on Japan’s exports, although wider market fears over the health of emerging markets now appears to be receding.
On the fallers’ board, Rolls-Royce slipped another 19p to 1,006p as it continued to suffer in the wake of last week’s profits warning.
On currency markets, the pound reached another four-year high against the dollar of $1.68 early in the session before falling back to stand at just above 1.67. There was a similar performance against the euro at €1.22.
Sterling’s strength has been good for holidaymakers and shoppers but poses a problem for attempts to re-balance growth through a focus on manufacturing and exports.
The prospect of further gains will be tested this week with important economic releases covering unemployment, inflation, retail sales and public borrowing.