Thursday market close: Lookers drives ahead

Benfield's franchises include Lexus
Benfield's franchises include Lexus
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Car dealer Lookers, owner of the Lomond and Taggarts chains north of the Border, powered ahead after buying Newcastle-based outfit Benfield for £87.5 million in cash.

The group said the deal would be immediately earnings enhancing and its shares jumped 9.2 per cent or 15.2p to finish the session at 180.5p.

The wider market also turned higher as a holiday in China gave investors a break from volatile trading, driven by fears over the health of the world’s second-biggest economy, and the FTSE 100 Index gained 110.79 points, or almost 2 per cent, to 6,194.1.

Sentiment was also helped by Mario Draghi’s promise that the European Central Bank was ready to give the eurozone economy a bigger dose of stimulus if turmoil in China and weaker global growth were to hurt its modest recovery.

IG market analyst Alastair McCaig said: “Traders’ attention has instantly shifted to Friday’s US non-farm payrolls report. As institutional opinion becomes increasingly less confident of a September start date to US interest rate rises, these figures will need to meet, or more likely, beat expectations in order to prevent that timeline moving even further away.”

Mining stocks topped the blue-chip risers’ board, with Glencore up 8.15p or 6.6 per cent at 130.95p and rival Anglo American surging 6 per cent or 41.2p to 725p.

Supermarket Morrisons was also higher on speculation that it could be a takeover target for South African billionaire Christo Wiese. It also had a broker upgrade from UBS, and shares rose 4.7 per cent or 7.7p to 170.8p.

McColl’s Retail Group, owner of the Scottish store chain RS McColl, added 0.75p to 157p despite reporting a 2.3 per cent fall in third-quarter sales.