Price helps oil the wheels of the FTSE

A BULLISH note on oil prices helped Britain’s top share index hold on to early gains yesterday as other sectors wavered.

The FTSE 100 closed up 25.42 points or 0.5 per cent at 5,649.68 in low-volume trading after Macquarie Research raised its 2012 price forecast for Brent crude by about a fifth to $116 a barrel.

The brokerage also hiked its price target on several oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, which gained 1.7 per cent to 2,385p.

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But news that US employment growth accelerated last month failed to excite traders, who were unconvinced the trend could be maintained.

Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets, said: “Even though the numbers are above expectations, they aren’t enough to suggest a sustained recovery in the US economy, and they also make further QE less likely in the near term.”

Yesterday marked the end of the road for Blacks Leisure after the company finally confirmed plans to go into administration. It suspended shares at 1.375p, representing a market value of just over £1 million, and appointed KPMG as administrators, after long-running restructuring efforts failed to save the group.

In a statement after the market closed, racecourse owner Arena Leisure said the City Takeover Panel had once again extended the deadline for the billionaire Reuben brothers to make an offer for the company. Its shares had traded 1.3 per cent lower during the day at 36.25p.

Among the Scottish shares, Aberdeen-based engineering firm Plexus got a boost after Tullow Oil signed up as a consulting partner on its project to develop a new and safer wellhead designed to prevent accidents like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Shares added 1.5p to close at 83p.

NEW YORK: Wall Street may have risen in the first week of 2012, but news that the US jobless rate neared a three-year low did not spark buying interest in equities last night.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 54.42 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 12,361.28 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 3.16 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 1,277.90 by the close.

The Nasdaq Composite Index ended up 4.13 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 2,673.99.