MONDAY MARKET CLOSE: Solid figures push FTSE towards high

A LATE surge helped the Footsie get within 1 per cent of its record high as traders forgot their emerging market fears and concentrated on UK results.

The wider market spent much of the session treading water but the impact of a strong start to trading on Wall Street, where there was another record high for the S&P 500, left the FTSE 100 Index 27.8 points higher at 6,865.86.

David Madden, market analyst at IG, said: “With such a heavy week ahead in terms of UK companies reporting, the market is looking at the strong US results season and we are starting to see that being replicated here.”

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The top flight is now within 70 points of its record close of 6,930 seen in December 1999, having just risen for three weeks in a row.

Vodafone’s long-awaited sale of its stake in US operator Verizon Wireless has been a big factor in the continued strong performance of the FTSE 100. It added a further 15.8p to 252.3p as it closed the deal and completed its planned share consolidation.

HSBC was lower as it fell short of profit expectations and warned that conditions in emerging markets were likely to remain choppy this year. The banking giant a big fall in early trading narrow somewhat to close 18.5p lower at 635.7p

Associated British Foods was 73p lower at 2,920p as it said it expects first half profits to be in line with 2013, with an “excellent” performance from its Primark stores offset by a slump in trading in its sugar business.

Among the Scottish stocks, Glasgow-based patent firm Murgitroyd was down after chairman Ian Murgitroyd sold more than £350,000 worth of shares. A company that represents his family’s holding sold 55,000 shares at 645.4p each. The stock closed down 5p at 630p.