Markets: FTSE 100 charges to five-year high

The benchmark FTSE 100 Index surged to its highest close in more than five years tonight as eurozone cheer offset a hefty fall from blue-chip heavyweight Vodafone.

A jump in German and eurozone economic sentiment figures helped the index add 1 per cent or 60.9 points at 6,379.1 – its highest level since January 2008 – while the Cac 40 in France and Germany’s Dax rallied 1.9 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG, said: “Excellent figures from the German confidence index, which its highest level in almost three years, emboldened investors.

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“The figures may be a bit backward-looking, but they are a relief from the less-encouraging data that had been the norm from the eurozone in recent weeks.”

But it was another tough day for the pound amid rumours that ratings agency Standard & Poor’s will be the first to strip the UK of its coveted “triple A” rating. Sterling plunged to a seven-month low against the dollar, at $1.54, while it fell to €1.15.

Among stocks, Vodafone shares were 2 per cent lower as concerns resurfaced over the mobile phone giant’s prospects in battered European markets. With broker Bernstein cutting its price target to 135p from 170p in the wake of the company’s recent trading update, Vodafone shares slipped 3.3p to 163.5p.

Banking group Standard Chartered, which is focused on Asian and emerging markets, was among the biggest risers in the top flight, up 41.5p to 1,771p after broker Morgan Stanley upgraded its rating on the stock.

And broadcaster ITV followed up Monday’s 3 per cent rise with an improvement of 2.7p to 123p as takeover speculation continued to swirl over the group.

NEW YORK: Wall Street tonight rose as this year’s ongoing surge in merger activity suggested investors were still finding value in the market even as 
indices hovered near five-year highs.

The Dow Jones industrial 
average closed up 53.22 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 14,034.98 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index ended up 10.96 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 1,530.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 21.56 points, or 0.68 per cent, at 3,213.59 by the close.