FTSE on the rise

The FTSE 100 Index pushed higher today as good news from across the Atlantic offered a respite from recent market turmoil.

The FTSE 100 Index pushed higher today as good news from across the Atlantic offered a respite from recent market turmoil.

The top flight rose 86.8 points to 5238.3 or 1.7% as a bigger than expected rise in US home sales lifted the mood on Wall Street overnight and futures markets signalled further gains today.

Miners gained ground on firmer base metals prices while there was also a much-needed gain for BP following a slump of more than a third for its shares following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The stock rallied last night and was up 15.8p to 445.55p as the stock also benefited from an increase in the price of oil to $74 a barrel, despite a downgrade for the company from ratings agency Fitch.

The broad-based gains left just two blue-chip stocks lower, with gold miner Randgold Resources down 30p to 6100p as investors moved their money out of the traditional safe haven.

In a quiet session for corporate news, shares in B&Q owner Kingfisher were almost 3% higher as the company overcame the impact of poor seasonal weather to post a 13% rise in first quarter UK profits. The stock rose 6.3p to 230.1p.

And chemicals firm Johnson Matthey enjoyed a similar rise after it reported a slight fall in full-year profits but said the new financial year had got off to a good start. Shares were 31p higher at 1586p.

But the top flight was dominated by commodity stocks on more positive economic news as well as comments from one broker that the Australian government could compromise on its planned super-tax on the mining sector.

Eurasian Natural Resources led the Footsie higher with a gain of more than 5%, up 54.5p to 1043p, while Kazakhmys was 47p stronger at 1206p.

Broker upgrades also accounted for many risers, with advertising giant WPP adding 24p to 671p after UBS rated the firm a buy.

Insurer Aviva was another beneficiary after Daiwa analysts said the firm was likely to gain from the refocusing of investor attention on the UK life sector following the collapse of Prudential’s bid for AIA. Aviva was 9.4p dearer at 335.3p.

In the FTSE 250, housebuilders made modest gains after building society Nationwide said a shortage of properties on the market pushed house prices 0.5% higher during May.

Redrow was 3p up at 134.9p while Barratt Developments gained 3.5p to 109p or 3%.

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