FTSE hits four-year-high

Mobile phone giant Vodafone helped the FTSE 100 Index soar to a fresh four-year high today as investors cheered news on customer numbers in Japan.

Mobile phone giant Vodafone helped the FTSE 100 Index soar to a fresh four-year high today as investors cheered news on customer numbers in Japan.

The heavyweight telecoms stock added more than 3% to its market value, making it the highest blue-chip riser.

Banking group HBOS also contributed to the upbeat mood following yesterday’s upbeat results, leaving the Footsie 31.7 points higher at 5570.5 by mid-morning. The index last closed at this level in August 2001.

Vodafone cheered 4.5p to 130.25p and was by far the heaviest traded stock of the session after a large increase in customers at its Japanese unit.

It was followed on the leaders board by HBOS, also up 3% or 27p to 933.5p, after becoming the second bank to forecast annual earnings ahead of expectations yesterday.

But elsewhere in the banking sector, Standard Chartered and Barclays headed in the opposite direction as their latest news failed to impress the market.

Standard Chartered weakened 27p to 1226p, making it the session’s heaviest faller, as brokers noted the language used in its pre-close statement today was less bullish than a year ago.

Barclays slipped 1.5p to 602p after it shook up the management of its UK banking operation.

Analysts said the departure of Barclays UK banking boss Roger Davis was negative because there were signs that his efforts to turn around performance were working.

Outside the top flight, engineer Mowlem agreed to be taken over by rival Carillion for £291m (€430.3m) but its shares only managed to rise 2p to 210p as the price was less than investors were expecting. Carillion was on the slide – off 2.5p at 313.5p.

Packaging specialist DS Smith added 0.75p to 152.75p as it had already prepared investors for a fall in half year profits.

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