US data takes shine off oil surge

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Brent crude jumped as much as $3 per barrel during yesterday’s trading, pushing shares in FTSE heavyweight BP 2.7 per cent higher to 470.8p.

Scottish oil firms were also on the up, with Cairn Energy adding 1.8p to 281.8p, Faroe up 4.75p at 167.25p and oil services firm Wood Group 11p higher at 658p.

But the FTSE 100 index lost most of its early gains after US house prices for November dropped for the third month in a row, while a consumer confidence survey came in below analyst expectations. The index closed just 10.52 points higher at 5,681.61 to complete a 2 per cent gain for January.

Chip designer ARM Holdings saw shares rise as it reported a 45 per cent hike in quarterly profit and said its growth would continue to outstrip the industry. The firm, whose technology powers Apple’s iPad and iPhone, continued to benefit from strong demand for smartphones and tablet computers. Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “Given Apple’s blowout numbers last week it would have been surprising if they hadn’t done well.”

Shares in ARM were 12p higher at 609.5p.

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB was up 24.5p to 690p after it said underlying profits grew 16 per cent to a record £601 million in the six months to 31 December, as it sold more telephony and broadband packages to existing customers.

Defence firm Babcock International said in an update its order book was stable at around £12 billion while it remains confident of meeting City expectations this year. It also attracted a “buy” note from RBS, which said the company could announce a disposal of its US operations before its prelims in May. Babcock was up 9p at 729.5p.

Murgitroyd, the Glasgow-based patent law firm, saw shares rise more than 5 per cent to 345p after unveiling growth in revenue and profits for the 11th consecutive interim period.

In the US, Wall Street closed its best month since October on a flat note as weaker-than-expected economic reports surprised investors after a stream of positive data in recent months. The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 19.83 points at 12,633.89. For the month, it was up 3.4 per cent.