Strong service figures lift FTSE - London Report

BRITAIN’S top share index edged higher yesterday, boosted by a survey showing that the country’s service sector grew faster than expected last month.

The market showed little sign of nerves before today’s General Election. However, option prices suggest the index may see its biggest swing in two years on Friday, when investors get their first chance to react to the result of one of the closest UK ballots in decades.

The Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) climbed to an eight-month high in April, countering other signs that the economy was slowing down. Indicators from Europe were also positive.

“In the UK and in Europe, the service sector PMIs were just better than expected and that's what’s helping lift sentiment,” said Jasper Lawler, analyst at CMC Markets.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.1 per cent up at 6,933.74 points. The index, which reached a record high of 7,122.74 points last month, is up around six per cent so far in 2015.

Software company Sage was the top gainer, up eight per cent, after posting organic revenue of £682m. Results also lifted Imperial Tobacco Group, British American Tobacco and GKN shares.

Despite election jitters the FTSE 100 Volatility Index, a gauge of investor fear fears, fell 6.7 per cent.