Upturn pushes FTSE to 4600 barrier

London shares extended their winning streak to a fourth session today as investors turned their eyes towards the key 4600 barrier.

London shares extended their winning streak to a fourth session today as investors turned their eyes towards the key 4600 barrier.

Stable oil prices, positive corporate results and upbeat economic data in Japan laid the foundations for the FTSE 100 Index to close 13 points higher at 4563.8.

Sentiment was also buoyed by expectations that the Bank of England will leave interest rates unchanged at 4.75% when it meets later this week.

Analysts at City stockbrokers Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein today became the latest to predict that UK interest rates now appeared to be near or even at the peak of their cycle.

Investors in London took their cue from a strong rally by the Nikkei index in Japan, which rose 222 points last night on the back of 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.

But the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which closed 30 points adrift on Friday, could be affected by a growing belief that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again this month and concerns over the US trade deficit.

On a day of modest gains for the top flight, ITV was among the biggest risers, up 1% or 1.5p to 105.5p, 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 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 drop of more than 2%, or 12.5p to 530p, in spite of news that it had increased half yearly pre-tax profits by 29% to £131.2m (€193.6m) in the 26 weeks to June 29.

A run of unfavourable results led to slower growth in current trading.

Hilton Group, which owns William Hill’s main rival Ladbrokes, fared better, rising 1.75p to 271p.

Meanwhile, FTSE 250 stock Bovis Homes moved 9.5p ahead to 566p after it posted a 46% increase in half yearly pre-tax profits to £67.2m (€99m).

Builders merchant Travis Perkins was also in positive territory, up more than 2% or 32p to 1382p, after posting an 18% rise in profits.

And market information group Taylor Nelson Sofres advanced 5.75p to 209.25p after reporting a 54% jump in half-year profits as savings from recent acquisition NFO began to flow through.

But office space provider Regus was at the top of the FTSE 250 fallers, slipping 2.75p to 67.5p despite saying it had cut half year losses.

The day’s biggest risers were Man Group, up 33p to 1394p, Allied Domecq ahead 8.25p at 465.25p, Hays gaining 2p to 124p and AstraZeneca up 39p to 2665p.

The biggest fallers were William Hill, down 12.5p to 530p, Smith & Nephew off 5p to 509.5p, Boots down 6.5p to 694p and United Utilities retreating 5p to 548.5p.

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