FTSE up on Fed boost

THE blue chip index rallied this morning, gaining around 0.3 per cent in early deals, as strong sentiment from the US Fed boosted trading.

Last night US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke leapt to the defence of its unprecedented QE programme.

A slew of positive earnings updates from large-cap companies also lifted investor sentiment.

In early deals, pump maker Weir Group topped the FTSE 100 leader board. It rose 1.7 per cent, as it posted a forecast-beating 12 per cent rise in full-year profits, boosted by strong demand for its pumps from mining companies.

Telecoms firm Vodafone added 1.8 per cent.

Broadcaster ITV edged up 1.4 per cent. This morning it posted a 13 per cent rise in full-year earnings, helped by growth in non-advertising revenues, adding that it would pay shareholders a £156m special dividend.

HSBC was also in the top five large-cap risers this morning, adding 1.2 per cent. Other UK banking shares also had a good morning, withBarclays rising 0.67 per cent, and Lloyds Banking Group was up 0.45 per cent. Only RBS fell, by 0.4 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum, oil services group Petrofac sank 3.6 per cent, despite it this morning posting a 17 per cent rise in full-year profit.

Intu Properties, formerly known as Capital Shopping Centres, fell almost two per cent as investors reacted negatively to its plans to place up to 86m shares to fund a £250.5m deal to buy a shopping centre in Milton Keynes.

Other blue chip fallers this morning included speciality chemical group Croda, services firm Serco and drinks brand Diageo, falling 1.55 per cent, 1.22 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed down 1.27 per cent, while in the US theDow Jones closed down 0.84 per cent.