Footsie ahead this morning

Gains in Asia helped to point the London market in the right direction today ahead of a public holiday on Wall Street.

Gains in Asia helped to point the London market in the right direction today ahead of a public holiday on Wall Street.

Investors took heart from a strong rally by the Nikkei to push the FTSE 100 Index 12.6 points ahead to 4563.4 by mid-morning.

The key Japanese index finished the session 222 points to the good amid a renewed appetite for shipping, steel and car making stocks following an upbeat capital spending survey.

The increased optimism about a Japanese economic recovery should be welcomed when trading in New York starts again tomorrow after today’s Labor Day holiday, analysts said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 30 points adrift on Friday.

On a day of modest gains for the top flight, ITV was the biggest riser, up 1% or 1.75p to 105.75p after announcing that non-executive director Etienne de Villiers was stepping down.

Press reports said his departure could pave the way for new group chairman Sir Peter Burt to introduce new blood to the board.

But shares in bookmaker William Hill went the other way, topping the Footsie fallers with a near-4% or 21.5p drop to 521p, despite news that it had increased half yearly pre-tax profits by 29% to £131.2 million in the 26 weeks to June 29.

Hilton Group, which owns William Hill’s main rival Ladbrokes, was third in the Footsie fallers with a 3.25p decline to 266p.

Meanwhile, FTSE 250 stock Bovis Homes moved 12p ahead to 568.5p after it posted a 46% increase in half yearly pre-tax profits to £67.2 million.

Builders merchant Travis Perkins was also near the top of the second flight, up 4% or 52p to 1402p, after posting an 18% rise in profits.

But office space provider Regus was near the top of the FTSE 250 fallers, slipping 1.75p to 68.5p despite saying it had cut half year losses.

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