FTSE has positive month despite loss today

FTSE has positive month despite loss today

The FTSE 100 Index finished in the red today but that did not prevent it enjoying its best September for 13 years.

The FTSE, which has added 6.7% over the month, dipped in and out of the red throughout the day and finally closed 20 points down at 5548.

Stock market historian David Schwartz said it was the best September since 1997, when the Footsie climbed 7% during the month.

The trading day started with concerning European news, as rating agency Moody downgrading Spain to Aa1, while the Irish Government said the total cost of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank was €34bn.

But improved US data lifted the mood later in the day, with the final second quarter GDP revision coming in slightly better than expected at 1.7%, while weekly jobless claims fell to 453,000 from 465,000 the previous week.

Wall Street opened higher on the final day of what is expected to be the best September in 71 years for US markets.

In the face of strong US data, the pound was down against the dollar at 1.57, while it was lower against the euro as well, at 1.15.

Fears over the European debt crisis hit the banking sector, with Barclays down 5.6p 299.6p and HSBC down 4p at 645p.

With the dollar under pressure amid concerns that the US Federal Reserve will reopen its quantitative easing programme, the price of gold set a new high above US$1,300 an ounce as investors continued to see the precious metal as a safe haven.

Mining stocks were cheered as Lonmin added 2p to 1669p and Eurasian Natural Resources lifted 14.5p to 918.5p.

The oil and gas sector helped push the market up earlier in the day with BP leading the charge and Royal Dutch Shell not far behind. Shares were up 6.8p at 427.8p and 5.5p at 1916p respectively.

BP leapt ahead after yesterday's move by new chief executive Bob Dudley to set up a safety division as part of efforts to rebuild the company's shattered reputation following the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The new boss also hinted in an interview that dividend payments to shareholders could be restored in the new year.

On the downside, shares in catering giant Compass dropped 21p to 530.5p, making it the FTSE's biggest faller, despite another solid sales performance in the fourth quarter.

Outside the top flight, Dairy Crest rose by another 2% after it said increased profits in its cheese business underpinned growth at a time of intense competition in the milk supply market.

The stock, which added 8.2p to 380.5p today, was also higher yesterday after announcing a new five-year supply contract with supermarket Morrisons.

The biggest Footsie risers were Man Group, up 5.9p at 219.1p, Burberry Group, ahead 20p at 1040p, Smiths Group, up 23p at 1219p, and BP, ahead 6.8p at 427.8p.

The biggest Footsie losers were Compass Group, down 21p at 530.5p, Standard Chartered, off 55p at 1826p, ARM Holdings, down 10.6p at 392.2p, and Tesco, off 9.3p at 424p.

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