Markets rally on Greece deal hopes

Markets rally on Greece deal hopes

Hopes of a breakthrough in talks between Greece and its bail-out creditors cheered markets today as they rallied after a tough previous session.

Alexis Tsipras, prime minister of the debt-laden country, said it was close to reaching a deal, helping the FTSE 100 Index to recover all of its losses from Tuesday as it added 84.3 points to 7033.3.

Germany’s Dax and France’s Cac 40 also climbed sharply while in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead too.

In currency markets, sterling was pegged back against the greenback after encouraging signs on the US economy including better-than-expected home sales, durable goods, and consumer confidence.

The pound fell a cent to just over 1.53 US dollars while it also dropped a cent against the euro to a little under 1.41, with the single currency bolstered by hopes of a deal with Greece.

In equities, Imperial Tobacco and British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) were among the winners as each received a boost from takeover developments.

Imperial rose 3%, or 109p, to 3393p after US regulators gave approval for Reynolds American to buy smaller rival Lorillard.

The move paves the way for the merged group to sell Imperial around 7 billion US dollars (£4.5 billion) worth of brands, including Winston and Maverick.

Meanwhile, the Irish government’s decision to sell its 25% stake in Aer Lingus to IAG helped lift shares in the BA parent.

The stock rose 3%, or 17.5p to 562p, after the government and the Irish flag-carrier’s board backed its protracted 1.36 billion euros (£961 million) takeover offer.

Last year, Aer Lingus had rejected two takeover offers from IAG saying they undervalued the business.

However, budget rival Ryanair, which owns just under a 30% stake in Aer Lingus, is yet to make a decision on what to do with its holding and could play “hard ball”, according to analysts.

Ryanair has in recent years made repeated unsuccessful attempts to buy Aer Lingus. Shares in the low-cost carrier rose 2%.

In the FTSE 250 Index, De La Rue – which prints notes for the Bank of England - sparked a share fall after it said its annual profits fell sharply as it continued to face challenging market conditions and price pressures.

The Basingstoke-based firm, which also makes passports and tax stamps, said underlying pre-tax profit fell by a quarter to £57.7 million after it also experienced lower levels of new business at its security products unit.

Shares slumped 9%, or 49.5p to 504p.

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr was also lower in the second tier after it posted a 1.1% fall in sales for the 15 weeks to May 9, despite the wider soft drinks market seeing a 0.7% rise in sales during the same period. Shares fell 8p to 615p.

The biggest FTSE 100 Index risers were CRH up 63p to 1839p, Imperial Tobacco up 109p to 3393p, International Airlines Group up 17.5p to 562p and Ashtead up 33p to 1217p.

The biggest FTSE 100 Index fallers were Glencore down 3p to 286.8p, Old Mutual down 2p to 229p, Weir Group down 14p to 1988p and SABMiller down 18.5p to 3539p.

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