FTSE: JPMorgan results help chase up Footsie

LONDON FTSE 100 CLOSE 5,796.25 +34.59

STOCK markets moved higher yesterday after earnings cheer from US bank JPMorgan Chase confirmed a buoyant start to America's results season.

The FTSE 100 index hit 22-month highs before closing up 34.6 points at 5,796.3, while the Dow Jones industrial average on Wall Street rose further above its key 11,000 mark.

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It was a similar picture across Europe, with the Cac 40 in France 0.6 per cent higher and the Dax in Germany lifting 0.8 per cent.

Angus Campbell, head of sales at Capital Spreads, said: "The concerns over Greece seem to be contained and the earnings season has got off to a good start."

JPMorgan's news of a better-than-expected 54 per cent rise in profits during the first quarter bolstered bank stocks. Figures published earlier by US micro-chip maker Intel had already set a positive tone.

Campbell added: "If technology is surging ahead then that's a good indication that the overall economy is in good shape."

In economic news, robust data on European industrial production renewed recovery hopes, while US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress's joint economic committee that America's recovery should hold.

Among UK banks, Barclays was up 10.5p at 373.5p and Lloyds Banking Group was 0.9p ahead at 64.6p. Royal Bank of Scotland closed 0.35p higher at 44.92p, while Standard Chartered ended the day up 49p at 1,809p.

Chip designer ARM Holdings was one London-listed blue-chip beneficiary of Intel's results, with shares standing 3.3p higher at 235.5p. Edinburgh-based rival Wolfson Microelectronics was up 2.5p at 158p.

Elsewhere among top-flight technology shares, BT Group leapt to the top of the risers board with a 5.4p gain to 129.1p, while accountancy software firm Sage added 3.4p to 258p.

Meanwhile, mining firms clawed back some of the ground lost on Tuesday, helping the Footsie move forward. Eurasian Natural Resources moved 48p higher to 1,245p and Xstrata added 30p to close at 1,291p.

Oil prices also broke a five-day losing streak to gain ground, helping the likes of Shell, which rose 26.5p to 1,917.5p.

Marketing and media giant WPP crept onto the risers board, adding 14.5p to 705.5p. The firm said it would return its tax headquarters to the UK if Conservative plans to exempt overseas profits from corporation tax were adopted.

The leading Footsie faller was Legal & General, which fell 1.8p to 91.7p after turning ex-dividend, meaning new investors were not entitled to the latest dividend.

Other ex-dividend stocks were support services firm Capita, down 5p at 793p and prospector Tullow Oil, which shed 5p to 1,315p.

Hedge fund firm Man Group was off 0.9p to 271.4p after a negative week for its AHL fund following a strong recent run, although Shore Capital brokers kept the stock at "buy".

Outside the top flight, shares in design and engineering giant WS Atkins jumped 22.5p to 672p after it said trading had been better than expected in the three months to March due to cash controls and recent contract wins.

Home maintenance firm Homeserve was another riser, up 102p to 1,897p, after it announced the acquisition of a US-based firm and benefited from a "buy" note issued by broker Seymour Pierce.