WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Investors reassured by US earnings

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A SOLID start to the latest US reporting season helped the London market get back on the front foot.

The FTSE 100 Index was up 44.92 points or 0.7 per cent at 6,635.61 after US engineering group Alcoa, which traditionally kicks off each quarter of updates on Wall Street, beat profit expectations.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “Having followed US markets lower in the last few days, European markets are now following them back up again with those most beaten down leading the charge, namely the housing and tech sectors.”

Chip maker Arm Holdings was the biggest riser, up 4.5 per cent at 1,029p, while housebuilder Barratt Developments climbed 3.9 per cent to 395.9p.

Other notable risers included B&Q-owner Kingfisher after UBS upgraded its stance on the stock to “buy” in the wake of the announcement that the company is in talks to acquire Mr Bricolage in France. Shares lifted 14.1p to 436.4p. It was joined on the way up by rival Travis Perkins, which gained 64p at 1,851p.

And Burberry was higher, up 43p at 1,417, as the fashion house is highly sensitive to its big growth market in China. Chinese market indicators have swung sharply upwards in recent days.

Motor insurers endured a turbulent session after a survey showed the cost of insuring a car had fallen to a four-year low. Insurance analyst Eamonn Flanagan of Shore Capital Stockbrokers said the report made for “grim reading” as he reiterated his sell ratings on the major players in the sector.

Admiral was down by as much as 2 per cent during the day, though it recovered to finish 9p higher at 1,392p.

However, Esure led the FTSE 250 fallers’ board at the close with a fall of 9 per cent or 23.7p, to 244p. And Direct Line dropped 5.4p to 233.4p.