WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Factory data sparks market rebound

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Blue-chip shares recovered their poise after a bout of profit taking had led to big losses at the end of the first quarter of 2015 earlier in the week.

The top-flight rose by more than 70 points at one stage but a weak start to trading on Wall Street meant the FTSE 100 closed 36.46 points higher at 6,809.5 – partially offsetting a fall of more than 100 points the day before.

Tony Cross analyst at Trustnet Direct said the rebound “added weight to the idea that Tuesday’s rout was driven more by quarter-end window dressing than any real concern over the macroeconomic outlook”.

Sentiment was buoyed by UK manufacturing data showing the sector grew at its fastest pace for eight months in March.

It added to cheer after official data earlier in the week showed UK growth for 2014 revised up from 2.6 per cent to 2.8 per cent.

But separate figures from the Office for National Statistics showed productivity fell by 0.2 per cent in the final quarter of last year, adding to concerns about the sustainability of the recovery.

UK-focused banking stocks were among the big risers with an upgrade for state-backed Lloyds from broker Jefferies helping it add more than 1 per cent, or 1.1p, to 79.4p.

Barclays was near the top of the leader board with an improvement of almost 3 per cent, or 6.7p, to 249.3p.

Bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland lifted 5.4p to 345.4p and HSBC added 4.6p to 578.6p, but Asia-focused Standard Chartered fell 11.5p to 1,082p after unveiling more senior management changes. Meanwhile, shares in online retailer Asos climbed 5 per cent or 99p to 3,728p despite the company reporting a 10 per cent drop in half-year profits. Big FTSE 100 risers included Imperial Tobacco up 82p at 3,045p an BG Group up 22.4p at 851.4p.