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GLOBAL MARKETS SURGE ON STRONG EARNINGS AND DATA

INVESTORS were cheered yesterday as stocks on both sides of the Atlantic made healthy gains on largely positive corporate and economic news.<br /><br />In the UK, the FTSE 100 rose for a ninth day in a row by 1.5 per cent to 4,559.80, the highest closing level since early January. It was the longest winning run since late 2003. Banking and mining stocks led the rally in Britain with HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lonmin among the highest risers.<br /><br />In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average shot up 2.12 per cent, to 9,069.29 &ndash; its highest close since November 2008. It was its first close above 9,000 since January 2009. <br /><br />Healthy corporate profits spurred optimism about the American economy, with diversified manufacturer 3M and telecoms business AT&amp;T leading the way.<br /><br />Sales of existing homes in the US also rose for the third consecutive month in June, the National Association of Realtors said. This is the first time since 2004 that this measure has risen three months on the trot. Sales rose to an annualised rate of 4.89m units in June, up 3.6 per cent from May.<br /><br />But the fragile state of the US economy was highlighted when the Labour Department said that the number of newly laid-off workers seeking jobless benefits rose by 30,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 554,000, higher than analysts had feared.