FTSE’s five-year high – and Dow record

A RATE cut by Australia’s central bank overnight put markets on the front foot yesterday, helping the FTSE 100 hit levels not seen since December 2007, while on Wall Street last night the Dow closed above 15,000 for the first time.

With bumper results from HSBC bolstering the banks, Britain’s top share index picked up where it left off after the long weekend, adding a further 35.84 points or 0.6 per cent to 6,557.3.

Alex Youngat CMC Markets, said: “Investor appetite for risk assets continues unabated as accommodative central bank policy coupled with strong corporate performance fuels demand for equities.”

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The gains came despite a 15 per cent fall for outsourcing and security specialist G4S after it warned over profits following a tough first quarter. Its shares plunged 45.5p to 260p.

HSBC lifted 21.1p to 735p on the back of better-than-expected numbers. Its increased quarterly profits haul also boosted rival Barclays – up 11.3p at 307.4p.

But Royal Bank of Scotland missed out on the sector’s advance amid a raft of broker downgrades and target price cuts. RBS dipped 0.2p at 289.6p, valuing the group more or less in the middle of the range offered by the various analysts.

Insurer Prudential saw shares slip 10p to 1,145p despite posting a solid rise in first-quarter sales. Traders were concerned by the fact that new business profit in the US fell 10 per cent.

Miner Eurasian Natural Resources added 6 per cent on confirmation that Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov had increased his stake. He is thought to have spent around £114 million to take his holding beyond 3 per cent. Eurasian added 17.7p to 310.4p, while fellow Russia-focused commodity stock Evraz also made up ground lost recently with a gain of almost 7 per cent to 166.2p.

NEW YORK: While the Dow finished above 15,000 for the first time last night, the S&P 500 closed at a record high for a fourth straight day.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 87.31 points, or 0.58 per cent, to end at 15,056.20. while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 8.46 points, or 0.52 per cent, to close at 1,625.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 3.66 points, or 0.11 per cent, to finish at 3,396.63.