FTSE 100 rallies on hope of new stimulus from the Fed

Britain’s top shares rose yesterday on hopes the US Federal Reserve is close to announcing new stimulus measures, and China and euro zone purchasing data were not as bad as feared.

Strong results and an upbeat outlook statement propelled security services firm G4S up 8.5 per cent to top the FTSE 100 list in volume more than double of its 90-day daily average.

Investors were hoping a speech by Bernanke in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday would give some form of assurance to help the struggling US economy such as further stimulus measures.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, however, told a Japanese newspaper the time was not yet right, but the Fed could buy more bonds or make a commitment on the size of its balance sheet if the US economy stalled further.

“All eyes are on Bernanke clearly investors are looking for a sizeable bond buyback,” said Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners.

Adding to the positive sentiment was news that purchasing manufacturing index (PMI) data from China and the eurozone although slowing were still showing some signs of growth.

“Investors are data watching in hope of a second half recovery,” said Richard Batty, global investment strategist at Standard Life Investments, which has £157bn of assets under management.

Oil stocks added the most points to the FTSE 100 after the PMI data supported hopes there was still demand for the commodity.

Royal Dutch Shell and BP were the stand out gainers up 1.8 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

British energy services firm John Wood Group gained 4.6 per cent to feature in the FTSE’s 100 best performers list in volume more than its 90-day daily average following forecast beating results and a positive outlook statement.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 34.12 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 5,129.42 in choppy trade having been up as much as 5,193.17 and down as low as 5,076.74, with volume close to its 90-day daily average.

The index held above a key support level – its 23.6 per cent retracement or 5,096.17 from its low in March 2009 to February 2011 high after briefly dipping below it.

The next resistance level was seen at 5,284.76 or its 38.2 per cent retracement.

Many traders were unconvinced the rally would last, however, and said it was just bargain hunting following the recent July-August sell-off which has seen the FTSE 100 fall 15.7 per cent and overall the data still showed there were weak spots.

“The market remains volatile, although the PMIs were not as bad as feared there is still not much evidence growth is strong and we are still in the midst of a soft patch,” Batty said.

European shares extended their low-volume bounce into a second day, led by demand for defensive stocks and investor hopes for a further easing of US monetary policy.

Lacklustre Eurozone data and weak US new-home sales figures led a brief dip into the red although subsequent gains across the Atlantic helped the FTSEurofirst 300 close up 0.8 per cent at 923.87 points.