FTSE advances ahead of QE statement

The FTSE 100 made gains as traders adjusted their positions ahead of today’s long-awaited meeting of the US Federal Reserve.

Comments on the possibility or otherwise of tapering the quantitative easing programme in the US is seen as a massive market mover, but investors evidently took a more positive view yesterday as Britain’s top share index advanced 43.72 points or 0.7 per cent to 6,374.21.

William Nicholls at Capital Spreads said: “Many will be hoping for re-assurance that little will be done prior to labour and inflation targets being met.”

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Heavyweight risers included HSBC, p 14.5p to 696p after broker Citigroup upgraded the stock from “neutral” to “buy”, citing its stronger balance sheet and progress on cost cutting.

Other banks were also on the front foot, with Barclays up 3.65p to 300.3p, Lloyds Banking Group 0.88p ahead to 62.18p and Royal Bank of Scotland 7p higher at 323p.

Whitbread set the pace at the top of the risers’ board after it reported a bright start to its new financial year. Its shares have enjoyed a strong run this year and closed up 3.6 per cent or 106p to 3,031p.

Low-cost airline EasyJet was also flying high, up by 27p to 1,279p after it announced a long-awaited deal to buy 135 Airbus planes over the next nine years.

Ongoing concerns over the weakening of growth in China meant the big miners acted as a cap on market gains. Eurasian was the biggest faller, down 10.7p or 4.5 per cent at 229.6p.

Outside the top flight, housebuilder Crest Nicholson added 1.5p to 339.5p as it continued the rise seen since its flotation four months ago. The latest gain came as it reported a 76 per cent surge in half-year profits, driven by a property market bounce.

NEW YORK: Wall Street advanced for a second straight session olast night as investors bet the Federal Reserve would temper recent statements that were interpreted as meaning an early reduction of stimulus efforts.

The Dow Jones industrial 
average was up 138.76 points, or 0.91 per cent, to close at 15,318.61 while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index ended up 12.76 points, or 0.78 per cent, at 1,651.80 and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 30.05 points, or 0.87 per cent, to end the day at 3,482.18.