FTSE ends strong week on a high

London shares ended a week of progress with further gains today after positive economic news in the United States.

London shares ended a week of progress with further gains today after positive economic news in the United States.

The FTSE 100 Index stood 16.6 points up at 4918.9 by the close, more than 100 points ahead of the 4801.7 level at which it started the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave the Footsie a late fillip by rising 36 points on the back of better-than-expected non-farm payroll data.

The figures seemed to underline the fact that overall US economic growth remained reasonable, despite a degree of concern in recent weeks about the state of the economy, analysts said.

Consumer goods giant Unilever ended the day at the top of the blue-chip risers after posting first quarter figures ahead of market expectations.

Even though the company said it expected market conditions to remain “very challenging” in Europe, the blue-chip stock advanced more than 2% or 13.5p to 529p.

Drugs groups were on the rise after an upbeat note on Shire Pharmaceuticals from Morgan Stanley.

Shire lifted 9p to 567p after the broker said its pipeline could beat forecasts next week, while rival AstraZeneca advanced 17p to 2352p.

Biggest risers included Unilever, up 13.5p to 529p, Anglo American gaining 26p to 1224p, Reed Elsevier adding 9p to 530p and Schroders NV advancing 11p to 650p.

Biggest fallers included BAE Systems down 5.75p to 259.75p, Scottish & Newcastle falling 9p to 457.25p, Man Group shedding 20p to 1233p and Centrica off 3.5p to 217.5p.

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