FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: US jobs figure a good fit for the FTSE

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A GOOD but non-threatening number from the US non-farm payrolls helped the London market cement a solid week.

Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “The US jobs report, which showed an increase of 192,000 in March, was strong for doves, since it came in below expectations, but also for those firmly in the ongoing economic recovery camp.”

The FTSE 100 Index climbed 46.41 points to 6,695.55, having flirted with the 6,700 level during the afternoon.

A recovery from insurance stocks, which many brokers say have been oversold in recent weeks, helped the bounce. RSA and Legal & General both added more than 3 per cent, up 3.15p and 6.6p at 94.15p and 217.7 respectively.

Airlines were also flying high, thanks to strong passenger numbers from EasyJet. The budget airline itself lifted 2 per cent or 36p to 1,827p, while British Airways owner International Airlines Group climbed 6.5p to 442.9p.

Outside the top flight, Flybe was also up after reporting progress on its turnaround plans and its own rise in passengers. Its shares rose 5 per cent, or 7.2p, to 148.5p.

Tesco was among the blue-chip losers as finance director Laurie McIlwee confirmed that he was to step down ahead of the group’s annual results in less than two weeks – and warned that it faced a period of “unprecedented change” in the supermarket industry. Shares – already weighed down this week by a gloomy broker note – fell 1 per cent, or 4.3p, to 287.4p.

Another blue-chip finance chief move was also in focus after Royal Bank of Scotland hired Ewen Stevenson from Credit Suisse to take over from Nathan Bostock. Shore Capital analysts said it “removes uncertainty around the position”, and shares closed 1.4p higher at 318.3p.