WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Shock US numbers fail to dent FTSE

World markets shrugged off a lacklustre first-quarter growth figure from the US as investors banked on the Federal Reserve keeping a careful watch over the world’s largest economy.

Philip Shaw, economist at Investec, said: “US GDP virtually stood still in the first quarter. Evidence though points strongly to a clear recovery through the course of the quarter as weather conditions improved.”

In London, traders adopted a cautious stance ahead of the Fed’s latest policy decision, not due until after the close. But aided by better-than-expected figures from heavyweight Royal Dutch Shell the FTSE 100 Index added 10.12 points to 6,780.03.

Shell was one of the day’s biggest risers as brokers focused on net earnings that were well ahead of forecasts. Its shares rose 89p to 2,520p.

Elsewhere in the sector, Heritage Oil was 23 per cent higher after the Jersey-based exploration and production company accepted a bid from a Qatari firm that values it at 320p per share, a 25 per cent premium to the previous day’s closing price. Shares topped the FTSE 250 Index risers’ board, up 59.6p at 315.2p.

Back in the top flight, Rolls-Royce surged 3 per cent after it confirmed talks with Siemens over the potential sale of its gas turbine and compressor business. Siemens is also interested in the energy business of Alstom as it looks to derail an existing deal between the French firm and US giant General Electric.

Rolls shares rose 29p to 1,050p as analysts welcomed the moves to raise funds from the disposal of a business that has lacked scale.

And shares in fashion retailer Next were 35p higher at 6,520p after it raised its full-year sales and profits guidance following a strong start to the year.