FTSE marches higher on solid results

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Robust trading statements and some solid Chinese trade figures helped support the London market yesterday, pushing the benchmark FTSE 100 index to a fresh five-and-a-half-year closing high.

Earnings were in focus, with engineering turnaround specialist Melrose Industries, software group Sage and high street stalwart Next among the top-flight risers on reassuring trading and result updates.

The Footsie ended up 26.18 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 6,583.48, its highest close since November 2007. The index has risen 11.6 per cent in 2013 as interest rate cuts and injections of liquidity by central banks around the world lift equity markets despite a stuttering global economy.

David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “With eight FTSE 100 companies trading ex-dividend, there was a minor drag early on but the better-than-expected Chinese export data and more favourable German industrial production numbers conspired to keep equity indices trading in the green.”

The Dax in Frankfurt was up 0.8 per cent to another record high and the Cac 40 in France gained 0.9 per cent.

Next rose 4.4 per cent or 195p to 4,601p as the chain highlighted another period of resilient trading. Rival Marks & Spencer gained 6p to 416.7p in its wake.

Insurer Esure rose almost 3 per cent on its first update since joining the stock market in March.

The company said gross written premiums were up 1.6 per cent to £124.2 million, with the impact of gender-neutral pricing showing early benefits for its Sheilas’ Wheels motor insurance business.

The stock floated at 290p and now stands at 314.8p following a rise of 8.8p yesterday.

NEW YORK: US stocks pushed further into record territory last night, driving the S&P 500 to an all-time high close for a fifth day, helped by strength in financials and technology.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 48.92 points, or 0.32 per cent, to end at 15,105.12 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 6.73 points, or 0.41 per cent, to finish at 1,632.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 16.64 points, or 0.49 per cent, to close at 3,413.27.