FTSE continues positive trend

Stock markets worldwide moved higher today after earnings cheer from US bank JP Morgan Chase confirmed a buoyant start to America's results season.

Stock markets worldwide moved higher today after earnings cheer from US bank JP Morgan Chase confirmed a buoyant start to America's results season.

The FTSE 100 Index in London hit 22-month highs before closing up 34.6 points at 5796.3, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street rose further above the key 11,000 mark.

It was a similar picture across Europe, with the Cac 40 in France 0.6% higher and the Dax in Germany lifting 0.8%.

JP Morgan's news of a better than expected 54% rise in profits during the first quarter bolstered bank stocks, while figures out earlier from US chipmaker Intel had already set a positive tone.

In economic news, robust data on European industrial production renewed recovery hopes, while US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress's Joint Economic Committee that America's recovery should hold.

Among UK banks, Barclays was up 10.5p at 373.5p and Lloyds Banking Group was 0.9p ahead at 64.6p.

Chip designer ARM Holdings was a blue-chip beneficiary of Intel's results in London, with shares standing 3.3p higher at 235.5p.

Elsewhere in the top flight BT Group leapt to the top of the risers board with a 5.4p gain to 129.1p, while software firm Sage added 3.4p to 258p.

Mining firms were meanwhile clawing back some of the ground lost yesterday, helping the Footsie move forward. Eurasian Natural Resources moved 48p higher to 1245p and Xstrata added 30p to 1291p.

Oil prices also broke a five-day losing streak to gain ground, helping the likes of Royal Dutch Shell, which rose 26.5p to 1917.5p.

Marketing and media giant WPP crept onto the risers board, adding 14.5p to 705.5p. The firm said it would return its tax headquarters to the UK if Conservative plans to exempt overseas profits from corporation tax were adopted.

The leading Footsie faller was Legal & General, which fell 1.8p to 91.7p after turning ex-dividend, meaning new investors were not entitled to the latest dividend.

Other ex-div stocks were support services firm Capita, down 5p at 793p and prospector Tullow Oil, which shed 5p to 1315p.

Hedge fund firm Man Group was off 0.9p to 271.4p after a negative week for its AHL fund following a strong recent run, although Shore Capital brokers kept the stock at buy.

Outside the Footsie, shares in design and engineering giant WS Atkins jumped 22.5p to 672p after it said trading had been better than expected in the three months to March due to cash controls and recent contract wins.

Home maintenance firm Homeserve was another riser, up 102p to 1897p, after it announced the acquisition of a US-based firm and benefited from a buy note issued by broker Seymour Pierce.

The biggest Footsie risers were BT Group up 5.4p at 129.1p, Eurasian Natural Resources ahead 48p at 1245p, Barclays up 10.5p at 373.5p and Burberry Group up 20p at 717p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Legal & General down 1.8p at 91.7p, Associated British Foods off 17.5p at 970p, Next down 31p at 2292p and Cobham down 3.6p at 272.3p.

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