FTSE up on outbreak of optimism

FTSE 100 CLOSE 5859.73 +68.32

Signs that Greece would reach an agreement with its private sector bondholders and encouraging economic news from Germany and the US helped Britain’s top shares make gains yesterday.

The FTSE 100 regained some of the ground lost earlier in the week, up 68.3 points at 5,859.7.

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Michael Hewson, senior analyst at CMC Markets, said: “European equity markets have once more had a buoyant tone as optimism grows that the Greek debt swap will go through without too many problems.”

Adding to the latest wave of positive sentiment was a better-than-expected increase in German industrial output for December, after a jump in construction activity led to a 1.6 per cent rise in production following a 2.6 per cent fall the month before. US unemployment figures showed a slight rise but not enough to change perceptions that the labour market is strengthening.

Miners were boosted by the improvement in risk appetite, with Vedanta Resources up 49p at 1,393p and Antofagasta 38p higher at 1,268p. Weir Group and Aggreko were among Scottish firms benefiting from the improved outlook, up 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively at 1,974p and 2,225p.

Banks had a volatile day, despite the latest boost to the survival chances of the beleaguered euro, with Barclays eventually 1.7p higher at 240.7p while Lloyds lost 0.1p at 34.3p.

Outside the top flight, shares in oil firm Bowleven were up 14 per cent as traders closed short positions on the stock following its recent falls. The shares had suffered after a takeover bid failed to materialise but yesterday they were supported by fresh talk of interest, this time from rival Tullow Oil. Bowleven was up 12p at 97p, while Tullow added 15p to 1,460p.

NEW YORK: Wall Street ended higher last night, recovering most of the week’s losses, after Greece moved closer to a bond swap with private creditors to avoid a messy default.

The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 70.61 points, or 0.55 per cent, to end at 12,907.94 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 13.28 points, or 0.98 per cent, to finish at 1,365.91.

The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 34.73 points, or 1.18 per cent, to close at 2,970.42.