FTSE ends the day on a high

The London market ended the week on a high today as stocks soared on the back of some good economic news from the US.

The London market ended the week on a high today as stocks soared on the back of some good economic news from the US.

Banking shares were among the big winners after the Federal Reserve announced an extra 50 billion US dollars funding package, with heavyweight mining counterparts also advancing thanks to rising metals prices.

With a second day of strong gains on Wall Street thanks to better than expected US jobs data also buoying the mood, the FTSE ended the day 128.2 points up at 6215.5, a gain of more than 2%. It is the first time the index has closed above the 6200 mark since mid-January.

Building supplies firm Wolseley, which does most of its business in the US, was the Footsie’s best performer. Shares in the group closed up more than 8%, or 41.5p, to 541.5p.

Banks dominated the risers’ board, as traders digested the Fed’s funding boost and more evidence of falling house prices raised hopes of a rate cut next week from the Bank of England.

Britain’s biggest mortgage lender Halifax Bank of Scotland added more than 7%, or 30.5p, at 495.5p. Close behind was Alliance & Leicester, which ended 29.5p up at 540p, and Royal Bank of Scotland, which added 19.25p to 365.25p.

Insurers were also amongst the big gainers after reports that German group Allianz may be considering a large acquisition in the UK insurance sector. Admiral rose 46.5p to 906p, with Aviva close behind up 28.5p at 660p. Shares in Prudential also advanced 29p to 726p.

High street retailer Next was another good performer ahead of a trading update planned for next week. Shares were up 78p to 1225p, with high street rivals also shining in the better mood. Marks & Spencer was 18p better off at 399p, while B&Q owner Kingfisher added 7.9p to 138.9p.

Among the miners enjoying favour after gold and other metal prices rose were Kazakhmys, up 58p at 1673p, and Xstrata, which added 159p to 4191p.

Dairy Milk maker Cadbury enjoyed a good session as it began life as a pure confectionery firm after spinning off its American drinks arm. Shares were 18p higher at 640p.

The biggest top flight fall came from up-for-sale British Energy which dipped 2%, or 29.5p to 728.5p amid speculation that German energy giant RWE may not bid for Britain’s biggest nuclear power generator.

Retreating oil prices, which this week neared the 120 dollar a barrel mark, saw prospector Cairn Energy slip 7p to 3073p.

BG Group made up all of the day’s earlier losses, adding 1p to 1261p, despite investors raising concerns about its offer for Australian firm Origin.

The Footsie’s four biggest risers were Wolseley, up 41.5 at 541.5p, Next up 78p at 1225p, HBOS up 30.5p at 495.5p and Kingfisher which ended the day 7.9p ahead at 138.9p.

The four biggest fallers were British Energy, down 29.5p at 728.5p, Thomson Reuters down 37p at 1578p, Tate & Lyle down 5.5p at 522p, and John Wood Group which closed 4p off at 430.25p.

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