Markets: Meagre share price rise born in the USA

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NEWS that the US economy was still creating healthy numbers of jobs in November helped the London market edge higher yesterday.

However, economists warned that the figures from across the pond may be revised downward, and with a raft of poor economic data from Europe, the FTSE 100 Index struggled to build on its six-week high. It added just 13 points to close at 5,914.4.

David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “It would appear that the [US] numbers were good but not good enough to aggressively buy, and there is a feeling that you don’t want to be long at these levels.”

Cautious traders anxious to hedge their bets in light of key US spending talks opted for defensive stocks such as pharmaceuticals and utilities. Shire was up 2 per cent at 1,900p, and Scottish Gas-owner Centrica added 1.6 per cent at 337p.

Marks & Spencer featured on the fallers’ board with a decline of 4.2p to 393.6p after Goldman Sachs downgraded the retailer to “sell”. The broker highlighted margin pressure on M&S and said the chain was likely to see declining returns on capital investment in the medium term.

Outside the top flight, shares in housebuilder Berkeley jumped 5 per cent after it unveiled the first payment in a decade-long plan to return to £1.7 billion to shareholders. The interim dividend of 15p a share came as it reported a 40.7 per cent rise in half-year profits. The shares were lifted 78p to 1,728p.

Shares in Thomas Cook have been flying high all week, and capped it with a rise of 12.5 per cent yesterday after a broker upgrade from Morgan Stanley. The US bank seems to have decided that the holiday group is firmly on the path to recovery, upping its price target from 16p to 50p. The shares were up 4p at 36p.

NEW YORK: US stocks struggled to advance yesterday, with another sell-off in Apple
depressing technology shares, overshadowing a sharply better-than-expected jobs report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 81.09 points, or 0.62 per cent, to end at 13,155.13, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 4.13 points, or 0.29 per cent, to close at 1,418.07.

However, the Nasdaq Composite index slipped 11.23 points, or 0.38 per cent, to end the day at 2,978.04.