THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: Upbeat survey boosts property firms

A SURVEY suggesting UK property prices were in for a boom decade helped Land Securities to the top of the blue chip risers’ board.

The property group was almost 3 per cent higher, up 29p at at 1,045p, while builder Persimmon added 22p at 1,342p.

The wider FTSE 100 gave up most of its early gains to close just 6.36 higher at 6,641.97, despite new evidence of the US Federal Reserve’s commitment to loose monetary policy.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Brenda Kelly, chief market strategist at IG, said: “The day has seen the FTSE 100 shift between gains and losses, and although we’ve touched 6,650 a number of times it appears that forward momentum is distinctly absent from the picture.”

Marks & Spencer’s first rise in underlying clothing sales since the end of 2010 failed to offset worries over margin pressure and declining market share. Shares fell 14p to 442p.

Rival Next rose 75p to 6,540p, while Primark owner Associated British Foods was 68p higher at 2,671p as analysts at Morgan Stanley said its budget fashion business will maintain its strong sales growth.

Royal Bank of Scotland suffered a choppy day’s trading despite taking a step towards returning to the private sector by agreeing to pay £1.5 billion to the taxpayer in a complex deal which will ultimately enable it to resume future dividend payouts. Shares initially rose but later fell back 1.1p to 308.7p.

Most miners were struggling following weak data from China overnight, with Antofagasta down 18.5p at 829.5p. But the precious metals enjoyed a boost from the loose talk at the Fed, helping Fresnillo gain 15.5p at 899.5p.

In a largely positive session for the retail sector, Mothercare jumped nearly 15 per cent or 23.8p to 187p after it showed tentative signs of a recovery from its Christmas profits warning.