FTSE maintains upward surge

The London market continued its recent revival today after a weaker dollar helped push a number of leading commodity stocks higher.

The FTSE 100 Index was 72.8 points stronger at 4315.3 by mid-morning as investors drew confidence from the third-biggest one-day rise ever for blue-chip stocks on Wednesday.

Asian markets earlier soared to double-digit gains after the US Federal Reserve’s 0.5% rate cut, but figures due later are set to confirm the first quarter of contraction for the world’s largest economy since the early 1990s.

In London, oil and commodities stocks were responsible for the Footsie’s latest gains as oil climbed back towards 70 dollars a barrel following the rate cut and the weaker dollar boosted other metal prices. Oil and gas services firm Petrofac was among the risers, up 13% or 47p to 417.25p.

Major corporate news from Royal Dutch Shell and Standard Life was given a lukewarm reception from markets.

Despite third-quarter profits of £6.6bn (€8.34bn) – ahead of forecasts – Shell’s shares slipped 26p to 1644p, as investors weighed up falling production output.

Life and pensions firm Standard Life fell almost 3%, or 6.3p to 193.7p as the firm reported flat sales and a difficult outlook despite reassuring on its capital strength.

Other insurers brushed off the update, with Friends Provident ahead 5.8p at 65.8p and Aviva 26.75p stronger at 350.75p.

There was a better reaction to a trading update from Rolls-Royce, which lifted 10% or 28p to 316p after it reported £5bn (€6.32bn) of new orders since June 30 and said current trading was in line with expectations.

Outside the top flight, shares in nightclubs group Luminar slid 10% or 17.5p to 162p after it reported weaker sales and City analysts cut profit forecasts for the current financial year.

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