FTSE gains £17bn as investors pile in

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Building materials giant CRH led the new year rally to fresh highs yesterday as improving American jobs figures raised hopes of a new building boom.

Shares in the Irish company, which makes half of its sales in the US, jumped more than 5 per cent to 1,342p, while the wider FTSE-100 gained 1.1 per cent, or 67.3 points, at 6,264.9, adding £17 billion to the value of Britain’s top companies.

Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads, said: “The FTSE-100 put in a stellar performance as investors piled into globally exposed UK stocks that largely underperformed in 2012 and so have spent much of this year so far catching up on their European counterparts.”

The buying was also spurred on by economic data that was supportive of stocks. Manufacturing figures from China, Germany and the US all surprised to the upside.

British Airways owner IAG was another high flyer, up 4.9 per cent at 218.4p as better-than-expected numbers from budget rival EasyJet gave its shares a lift. Second tier EasyJet added 5.1 per cent to close at 898.5p as it slashed its forecast for winter losses.

Investors took a favourable view of Lloyds’ plans to trim its workforce and reports that it would soon repay up to €10 billion (£8.5bn) of the long-term cash it borrowed last year from the European Central Bank. It was up 1.5p at 53.5p, with news that wealth manager St James’s Place – in which it owns a majority stake – was experiencing a strong pick-up in new business also giving the shares a filip.

Aberdeen Asset Management was buoyed by comments from St James’s chief executive David Bellamy that improved confidence in the economy was driving demand for investments. It gained 9p at 405.5p, while St James’s added 4.8p to 461.4p.

NEW YORK: The smallest of gains gave the S&P 500 its seventh win in a row yesterday, but the broad-market index was
restrained by Apple’s worst day in more than four years.

Apple stock slid 12 per cent a day after it posted revenue that missed forecasts as iPhone sales were poorer than expected.

However, factory data and jobless claims combined to lift the mood, and the Dow rose 46 points to close at 13,825.33.