TUESDAY MARKET CLOSE: German confidence inspires traders

Solid corporate results and a possible turning point for the German economy helped the latest FTSE rally gather steam.

Prudential shares set a record high. Picture: PA
Prudential shares set a record high. Picture: PA

The index was 37.16 points higher at 6,709.13 at the close as sentiment continued to recover following this autumn’s sell off.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC, said: “European stock markets took heart from a big turnaround in German investor confidence with bullish sentiment remaining over the prospect raised on Monday of government bond purchases by the European Central Bank.”

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Better-than-expected results from blue-chip pair Prudential and British Land fuelled progress. Prudential shares set a record high during the session after chief executive Tidjane Thiam reported “good progress” in the third quarter following a 17 per cent rise in nine-month new business profits, to £1.5 billion.

The figures were ahead of expectations and included a steady performance in the UK despite disruption in the annuity market due to recent pension reforms. Shares were 16p higher at 1,491p.

British Land shares were 12p stronger at 749p after the property developer and manager announced a 6 per cent rise in underlying half-year profits and said demand for its London office portfolio was improving.

But low-cost airline EasyJet came under pressure despite reporting a fourth year in a row of record pre-tax profits. The 21.5 per cent increase was near the top end of expectations but shares fell 19p to 1,525p as some investors had been expecting the Luton-based firm to announce another special dividend.

Outside the top flight, shares in Balfour Beatty were 5 per cent or 8.5p higher at 164.3p amid relief that a scheduled trading update contained no further bad news from its troubled UK construction services division.