Deals help BT lead the Footsie higher

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Telecoms giant BT topped the blue chip risers’ board yesterday following its recent deal to provide the infrastructure for O2’s 4G offering.

Its shares were up almost 3.5 per cent at 285.7p after it also announced a deal with department store Fenwick giving shoppers free wi-fi at its stores.

Manufacturing figures helped the wider market make gains, although they were pared in the afternoon after disappointing economic reports from the US. The FTSE 100 ended up 21.17 points or 0.3 per cent at 6,451.29. Tobias Morris, senior sales trader at CMC Markets, said: “With European equities closed for the May Day bank holiday, UK traders initially sent stocks higher as strong corporate earnings, optimism over a European rate cut and better-than-expected manufacturing numbers contributed to strong risk appetite early on. The bullish mood dissipated in afternoon trade however, as weaker than expected macro data from the States capped gains in the short term.”

A well-received update from Antofagasta helped it and other mining stocks rise initially, after the Chilean copper producer said it remained on track to meet its full-year output target. But it later fell back to close 2.5p lower at 895p, hit by the US data.

Outside the top flight, a drop of more than $3 in the oil price on both sides of the Atlantic hit some of the Scottish drillers. Bowleven and Ithaca were both about 1 per cent lower at 78p and 104.5p respectively.

Argos-parent Home Retail Group closed 7 per cent lower at 144.9p despite a return to profit as markets fretted over a 52 per cent tumble in Homebase’s earnings.

NEW YORK: Wall Street fell sharply last night as the latest economic data continued a trend of indicators pointing to anaemic growth, while bellwether companies disappointed on revenue. The Federal Reserve’s decision to keep its monetary stimulus in place was not enough to offset investors’ anxiety about the data and earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 138.85 points, or 0.94 per cent, to end at 14,700.95 while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 14.88 points, or 0.93 per cent, to finish at 1,582.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 29.66 points, or 0.89 per cent, to close at 3,299.13.