TUESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Solid Kingfisher helps underpin gains

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A strong corporate news flow and hopes that China will provide stimulus to the world’s second-biggest economy boosted Britain’s blue-chip share index by more than 1 per cent.

Financial updates saw Kingfisher shares leap 6 per cent while EasyJet rose almost 4 per cent amid a wider rebound on the top flight, up 84.5 points or 1.3 per cent to 6,604.89 as it regained losses seen on Monday due to fears of Russian sanctions and weak manufacturing data in China and the eurozone.

Mining stocks were lifted amid expectations that China might announce stimulus measures on the back of the latest disappointing figures.

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG, said: “[Monday’s] six-week low has been swiftly forgotten, as investors bet that China might be about to boost stimulus measures to help counteract a slowing economy.

“In western eyes, the Communist Party has unfettered power to maintain China’s growth rates, so miners are rallying as risk appetite recovers.”

Kingfisher, owner of the B&Q chain, led gains after the DIY group announced plans to return £200 million to shareholders in the current financial year.

The move came as the firm met City expectations with a 4 per cent rise in profits. Shares surged 24.3p higher to 430.8p.

EasyJet continued its impressive performance after it narrowed its guidance for losses in the seasonally quieter first half of its financial year. Shares were up 60p to 1,692p.

Royal Mail shares suffered after the group’s announcement that it is planning up to 1,600 job cuts fuelled fears of strike action by unions.

Shares were 18.5p lower at 565.5p, even though the delivery firm said current trading has been in line with expectations.