FTSE starts the month on a high note

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Firm manufacturing numbers on both sides of the Atlantic underpinned investor sentiment yesterday, boosting hopes over a return to form for Britain’s blue-chip index in the second half of the year.

The FTSE 100 closed up 92.31 points or 1.5 per cent at 6,307.78 following a 5.6 per cent drop during June on fears of an abrupt end to America’s asset-buying programme and worries over a possible credit crunch in China.

There have been better signs from world markets in recent sessions, helped by reassuring comments from central bankers over the future of economic stimulus measures and support for Chinese lending.

Confidence was further boosted yesterday by a bounce-back in US manufacturing while UK factory activity touched a two-year high. IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said: “The bulls are looking to make hay while the sun shines this week, with the immediate target being the highs seen last week.”

It was a decent session for clothing retailers on hopes the warm weekend weather brought shoppers on to the high street.

Marks & Spencer was 11.4p higher at 442.1p, while rival Next lifted 90p to 4,648p. But there was no such for lift for supermarket chain Morrisons, which featured on a shortened fallers board, down 1.6p to 260.2p.

Insurer Admiral was the biggest loser in the top flight, closing down 13p at 1,314p.

In corporate news, tour operator Tui Travel was 8p higher at 364.9p after it announced a new £300 million bank credit facility. The company said the three-year agreement will improve balance sheet flexibility and strength.

On the currency markets, sterling was broadly unchanged against the dollar and the euro. A pound was worth $1.52 and about €1.17.

NEW YORK: US stocks closed higher on the first day of a new quarter, boosted by economic data, but pulled off their highs late in the session as some investors booked profits.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 65.36 points, to 14,974.96. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.68 points at 1,614.96. The Nasdaq Composite index climbed 31.24 points to 3,434.49.