FTSE rises to highest level for a year

Evidence of a turnaround in the economy and a raft of corporate news sent the FTSE 100 Index to the highest level seen for a year.

Evidence of a turnaround in the economy and a raft of corporate news sent the FTSE 100 Index to the highest level seen for a year.

The mood has been one of optimism after strong economic figures on both sides of the Atlantic sent the benchmark index soaring - at one point touching 4279.1, well clear of August 18's close of 4271.1 which was the highest close for a year.

But with less dramatic gains on Wall Street, the Footsie finally settled for a 57.7 point gain, finishing the session at 4261.1.

The Footsie started strongly after fresh evidence of US recovery spurred Wall Street to its highest close for 14 months overnight. That was backed up by UK figures showing the service sector growing at its fastest rate since January 2001.

Positive comments on the technology sector boosted shares in accountancy software group Sage which headed the Footsie risers gaining 10% or 17.5p to close at 190.25p.

Scottish & Southern Energy was the biggest faller in the top flight, off 6% or 35.5p at 606p. Meanwhile United Utilities fell 3p to 101p, Severn Trent fell 11p to 644p and National Grid Transco fell 5.5p to 382p.

Tobacco group Gallaher also made gains - putting on 3.5p to 565p - after saying it had increased its share of the UK market, despite a 14% decline in half year profits.

Elsewhere services firm Serco, which runs trains and nuclear facilities among other activities, saw its shares rise 11% or 18p to 188p after announcing double-digit increases in sales and profits for the 16th successive year.

Also in the second tier, supermarket group Somerfield dipped 2.25p to 126.5p after reporting slim like-for-like sales growth in its first quarter after being pulled back by its Kwik Save outlets.

And after a strong run fuelled by takeover talk the housebuilding sector was lower across the board. Among them Redrow fell 10.5p to 338.5p, while Berkeley was off 19.5p at 860p, Taylor Woodrow slipped 5.25p to 251.75p and Bellway lost 15.5p at 666.5p.

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