FTSE lifted by healthy earnings

BRITAIN’S leading shares closed higher yesterday, boosted by results from Barclays, Schroders and Associated British Foods.

The FTSE 100 closed up 25.23 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 5,875.19, after closing down 0.4 per cent on Monday.

The index is up 8.5 per cent this year and has jumped around 23 per cent since hitting a year’s low on July 1, and some analysts see the FTSE attacking the 6,000 level near-term.

“Solid (corporate results) updates ... have helped cheer investors and shake off the indifference that dogged yesterday’s session,” Anthony Grech, head of research at IG Index, said.

“Traders are eyeing up the 6000 level as the next target for the FTSE, and at the rate that the markets have bounced back in recent days, they may not have to wait too long.”

Barclays added 4 per cent after a sharp improvement in its bad debts helped lift the bank’s underlying third-quarter profit and boosted the sector, with the UK banking index up 0.8 per cent.

Investment manager Schroders rose 5.5 per cent after it beat third-quarter market expectations on the back of strong sales to overseas institutional clients.

Associated British Foods, owner of low-cost clothing retailer Primark, gained 3.2 per cent as it beat forecasts with a 25 per cent rise in full-year earnings.

However, Marks & Spencer dropped 1.7 per cent on plans by the new head of the British clothing, food and homewares group to ramp up investment in its core UK, online and overseas businesses.

Mobile phones operator Vodafone fell 0.6 per cent, having earlier hit highs not seen since February 2008, after it raised its profit outlook and agreed to sell its interests in Japanese carrier SoftBank for £3.1bn.

Intercontinental Hotels slipped 5.2 per cent, the heaviest FTSE 100 faller, with investors booking gains after recent strength even though it reported a 5 per cent increase in third-quarter revenue.

Miners provided strong support to the index as gold hit a record high.