WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Traders take profits

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The London market handed back early gains as traders took some profits ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting.

The FTSE 100, which had soared close to 6,820 in early trading, retraced to end the day just 2.97 points higher at 6,777.7.

Will Nicholls, a dealer for Capital Spreads, said: “The sharpness and relentlessness of this short-term rally in stock markets has been almost unfathomable.

“There is a small amount of weakness and money being taken off the table before the [Fed meeting], but that is to be expected with many having enjoyed such a good run.”

Fashion retailer Next was the best performer, adding almost 5 per cent after beating City expectations for its third-quarter sales and raising its forecasts for the year. The shares were up 245p to 5,450p. Other retail stocks took heart from Next’s performance, which defied evidence of a flagging consumer recovery.

Marks & Spencer was also on the risers’ board, up 7.6p at 493.2p. It was aided by a “buy” note from Shore Capital citing reports that M&S’ share of the UK clothing market had stabilised.

Also doing well was Barclays after the bank’s latest numbers received some favourable comments from broker Jeffries. The bank also left its PPI provisions unchanged, unlike rival Lloyds. Barclays climbed 2.4p to 268.45p, while Lloyds was down 0.34p at 77.67p. Oil giant BP continued to make gains after its announcement on Tuesday that it would return more cash to shareholders. Its shares were up almost 1p at 482p. Energy services group Petrofac was also on the front foot, up 10p at 1,478p after signing a £400 million gas contract.

Among the Scottish stocks, Edinburgh-based logistics group John Menzies said non-executive director Dermot Jenkinson sold 108,750 shares for 803.1p each, raising more than £873,000. The sale follows two previous disposals, worth about £3.6m in total, last week. The shares moved up 16.5p, or 2 per cent, to 807.5p.