FTSE lifted by strong results

BRITAIN’S benchmark share index rose yesterday following strong numbers from retailer Next and other blue-chip companies, although many investors held off trading ahead of key US and European central bank policy meetings.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended up 77.54 points, or 1.4 per cent higher, at 5,712.82 points – its highest closing level in nearly two weeks since ending at 5,714.19 points on July 19.

A raft of strong numbers from leading British companies buoyed sentiment ahead of the meetings of the US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank yesterday and today, which could give more clues over future monetary stimulus moves. However equity markets are likely to fall if there is no concrete intervention from the ECB.

Clothing retailer Next topped the FTSE 100 leaderboard, surging 6.5 per cent after the company raised its own profit guidance and beat targets for its first-half sales growth.

Pharmaceutical company Shire rose 4.8 per cent after posting higher second quarter earnings, while Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered gained 3.6 per cent after reporting higher profits.

A retreat in the price of gold pushed down mining stocks, with Randgold Resources falling 2.1 per cent to make it the FTSE 100’s worst performer.

Industrial services provider Cape was the worst-performing stock on the FTSE 250.