FTSE making strong gains

A positive session for US and Asian markets overnight spurred the FTSE 100 Index to further strong gains today.

A positive session for US and Asian markets overnight spurred the FTSE 100 Index to further strong gains today.

The Footsie has rallied more than 250 points so far this week after investors went in search of cheap looking stocks. It rose 85.9 points to 3797.9 by mid-morning today after US stocks rallied on better-than-expected US consumer spending figures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average returned above the 7,000 barrier after a 3% improvement, while in Asia the Hang Seng was up by 4%.

Traders expect further gains when Wall Street reopens later today.

The recent rally in the banking sector continued as Barclays added 10% or 7.5p to 79.4p while Royal Bank of Scotland improved 1.4p to 22.5p and Lloyds Banking Group rose 1.2p to 46.9p.

Legal & General’s recent volatility showed no signs of ending as shares jumped 4.5p to 33.5p, or 16%. Aviva added 11.25p to 202.25p after falling heavily yesterday in the wake of a downbeat broker note.

Among the miners, Xstrata cheered 8% or 27.5p to 353.75p and Kazakhmys rose 17p to 326p.

The biggest improvement in the FTSE 250 Index came from JD Wetherspoon after the pubs chain reported a 2% rise in half-year profits and said current like-for-like sales rose 1.9%, sustaining the sales growth of the first half.

Shares rose 14% or 47.5p to 388.75p, while the update cheered other operators in the sector, with Enterprise Inns up 5.5p at 51p, Mitchells & Butlers ahead 15p at 233.75p and Punch Taverns 1.75p stronger at 37.25p, a gain of 5%.

Meanwhile, Aga Rangemaster escaped a sell-off after it scrapped its dividend and posted sharply lower profits. Analysts were also cautious about prospects in light of a 20% fall in current orders, but shares rallied 7p to 74p.

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