FTSE rallies at market close

Stock markets rallied strongly today as investors looked to a fresh set of measures to help the ailing global economy.

Stock markets rallied strongly today as investors looked to a fresh set of measures to help the ailing global economy.

The FTSE 100 Index joined markets across the world in soaring higher, up by 6.2%, or 250.7 points to 4300.1.

Germany’s Dax and the Cac 40 in France both closed around 8% up, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street surged nearly 4% in early trading.

The bounce back was sparked by optimism over US President-Elect Barack Obama’s major spending plans announced at the weekend, a new Chinese stimulus package and a bailout for US car makers.

Overnight gains in Asia had already seen Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rise nearly 9%, while the Nikkei 225 in Japan gained more than 5%.

London’s FTSE 100 saw commodity stocks lifted by hopes of an upturn in demand through economic aid.

Insurers meanwhile enjoyed a strong session after a US body approved moves which could lessen capital and reserve requirements on players in the sector.

This left Prudential as the Footsie’s biggest gainer, ahead 67.5p to 358.5p – a gain of more than 23%. It was followed close behind by Old Mutual, up 6.6p to 49.7p, and Friends Provident, up 9.5p at 83p.

Banks were also benefiting in the rebound, with Barclays the top gainer in the sector with a 19.6p rise to 157.9p.

Miners likewise littered the blue-chip risers’ board, led by Eurasian Natural Resources up 46.75p at 301p. Other double-digit gainers in the sector included Anglo American and BHP Billiton, which rose 193p to 1429p and 152.5p to 1128p respectively.

Oil also bounced back from the four-year lows reached last week to above 43 US dollars a barrel on rumours of an imminent production cut from oil cartel Opec. This lifted BG Group 72p to 859.5p, BP 30.5p to 508.5p and Royal Dutch Shell 117p to 1632p, a rise of 8%.

Premier Inn and Costa Coffee parent Whitbread meanwhile saw shares rise 55.5p to 817.5p as it reported “robust” trading despite announcing plans to curtail its growth next year.

The strong gains for the wider market saw just three top-flight stocks in negative territory. The trio included property firm Liberty International, which was 10.75p lighter at 482.75p after it was cut to sell by brokers at Societe Generale.

In the second tier, Talk Talk firm Carphone Warehouse fell 4% after its co-founder David Ross quit following his failure to declare use of his shares as backing against personal loans.

Mr Ross owns almost a fifth of the company. His departure comes soon after Carphone warned that next year would be the most challenging economic climate ever faced by the firm and caused shares to drop 4p to 89p.

The biggest Footsie risers were Prudential ahead by 67.5p to 358.5p, Eurasian Natural Resources up 46.75p to 301p, BHP Billiton up 152.5p at 1128p and Anglo American up 193p at 1429p.

The only Footsie fallers were Wood Group down 8.1p at 155.7p, Stagecoach off 4.5p at 114.8p and Liberty International down 10.75p at 482.75p.

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