FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: Airlines give FTSE a lift into the weekend

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Easyjet flew to the top of the FTSE 100 leaderboard as analysts got on board following rival Ryanair’s upbeat talk on Thursday.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “In the wake of those revised forecasts for Ryanair, brokers have been out in support of the airline sector during the session.”

A rise of more than 3 per cent put EasyJet up 43p at 1,393p, while British Airways owner IAG added 5.5p at 370.7p.

The FTSE 100 took its lead from the US, where bargain hunters helped end days of selling. Afternoon gains helped the index rise 9.68 points to 6,649.39 after heavy losses this week.

Sainsbury’s was in focus ahead of its trading update next week. The prospect of higher interest rates and a deeper price war raised fresh concerns over the profitability of the supermarket sector, with Sainsbury’s the biggest faller in the top flight, down 7.9p to 250.1p, and Morrisons off 3.1p at 171p.

The recent spate of profit warnings continued as De La Rue lost a third of its value as it warned that profits will slump by £20 million in the current financial year due to deteriorating trading conditions. Shares slumped by 33.6 per cent or 255.3p to 504p.

And Shanks fell by more than 12 per cent, down 12.6p to 90p, after the waste treatment facilities operator warned over strong competition in the construction sector in the Netherlands. It said annual profits will be £15 million lower than previously forecast.

Back in the top flight, chip designer Arm Holdings fought back from the weak start seen after tech giant Apple dropped sharply on Wall Street due to its decision to pull an update to its iOS 8 operating system. Shares in Arm, whose designs help to power many Apple products, closed up 15p to 919p.