London’s index of leading shares leapt almost 100 points today as the market made its first gains of the week on the back of reassuring comments from the head of the US Federal Reserve.
With oil prices steadying and gaming stocks showing signs of stabilising, the FTSE 100 Index finished the day 96.3 points higher at 5778.
Markets rallied around the world following suggestions from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke that he expected an easing in US inflation next year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 154 points at the time of London’s close, as traders expressed relief that the comments could herald a possible pause in recent interest rate increases.
In London, Party Poker owner PartyGaming was among the most heavily traded stocks as investors came to terms with the charges laid in the United States against sports betting company BetonSports on Monday.
PartyGaming fell 17% last night and was initially off 4% before recovering to stand 9p higher at 94.25p.
Among smaller counterparts, 888 Holdings recovered by 9.25p to 177.75p, but Sportingbet dropped off 1.75p to 180.25p. The company’s exposure to the United States and the sports betting market has meant it has been badly affected by developments at BetonSports.
Shares in property website Rightmove and estate agency Countrywide were badly hit by Government moves to water down the launch of home information packs.
The two companies – members of the FTSE 250 Index – were down 20% and 7% respectively as hopes for an earnings bonanza were dashed by the Government’s decision not to include the survey part of the packs in next year’s launch.
The fall for Rightmove – down 71p to 280.75p – means it is now below the company’s flotation price in March of 335p.
Countrywide, which owns a stake in Rightmove and also has its own surveying division, fell 7% even though it put out a statement saying it did not believe current market forecasts would be affected. Shares were off 28p at 397.75p.
Elsewhere, sugar and starch group Tate & Lyle jumped by 3% – or 18p to 647p - after analysts warmed to a “surprisingly positive” trading statement.
Steel giant Corus was also ahead 15.75p to 418.75p as bid rumours resurfaced, while British Airways lifted 14.25p to 357.25p amid hopes that the result of an inquiry into allegations of price fixing on long-haul fuel surcharges could be known soon.
Energy majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell were acting as a drag on the market as oil prices eased.
BP stood 3.5p lower at 631p while Shell recovered as the session wore on to stand 2p higher at 1892p.
Outside the top flight, Blacks Leisure fell 11% or 60p to 490p, following its warning that half-year profits would be lower than last year. It blamed the World Cup and the absence of the Glastonbury music festival this year.
The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were PartyGaming up 9p at 94.25p, Lonmin up 133p at 2805p, Xstrata up 94p at 2005p and Amvescap up 22p at 476.25p. The heaviest fallers were BP down 3.5p at 631p, Scottish and Southern Energy down 3p at 1163p, BOC down 1p at 1599p.