FTSE presses ahead

The FTSE 100 Index pressed ahead today on the back of a strong show from the oil and gas sector and a weaker US dollar.

FTSE presses ahead

The FTSE 100 Index pressed ahead today on the back of a strong show from the oil and gas sector and a weaker US dollar.

The US Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce a further bout of quantitative easing tomorrow, which weakened the value of the greenback and made commodity stocks more attractive to investors.

The Footsie was spurred on further by strong results from BP and BG Group, as well as Aviva and Imperial Tobacco, closing 62.8 points up at 5757.4.

The pound, weakened by lower-than-expected UK manufacturing data, was down against the dollar at 1.60 and down against the euro at 1.14.

BP took another step in its recovery with better-than-expected third quarter profits of $5.5bn (€3.9bn) when excluding the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. While there was no new guidance on BP’s possible resumption of dividend payments, shares lifted 7.6p to 431.7p.

Shares in oil and gas exploration company BG Group were likewise on the rise, ahead 41.5p to 1252p, after it upgraded its Brazilian oil and gas reserves estimate by around a third and reported a 6.7% rise in third-quarter profits.

Insurer Aviva was another high profile stock on the front foot after it announced plans for another £400m (€456m) of cost savings and efficiencies and reported long-term savings figures in line with expectations. Shares responded with a rise of 4.7p to 402.3p.

There was a similar reaction to full-year results from Imperial Tobacco, which rose 38p to 2035p after it lifted profits by 10% with the help of price rises and strong sales gains in emerging markets.

Cillit Bang and Dettol households products firm Reckitt Benckiser also featured on the risers board after its figures met expectations and it set new targets for revenue and profits growth of 6% and 16% respectively. Shares were 32p higher at 3557p, a rise of 1%.

But there was further shares pain for outsourcing giant Serco, which fell another 4% after yesterday’s 4% plunge after it apologised for a letter to suppliers demanding a rebate and pledged it would not pass on Government spending cuts. Its shares were 21.5p lower at 565.5p.

Lloyds was down 2.2p to 67.3p, despite advising that it remains on track to make its first full-year profit since being bailed out by the Government. Royal Bank of Scotland also eased back, down 0.2p to 45.4p.

The biggest Footsie risers were Tullow Oil up 48p at 1219p, Kazakhmys ahead 47p at 1386p, Xstrata up 40.5p at 1295p, and BG Group ahead 41.5p at 1252p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were Lloyds down 2.2p at 67.4p, Serco off 21.5p at 565.5p, GKN down 3.5p at 174.3p and Next off 10p at 2229p.

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