Strong corporate results cause the sharpest FTSE jump for four weeks

B RITAIN’S blue-chip index made its biggest single session gain in four weeks yesterday as a number of firms posted solid results and investors took on fresh bets at the start of a new month.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 79.22 points at 5,861.92, a rise of 1.4 per cent, the biggest gain since 1 October, with banks alone adding nearly 20 points.

Lloyds Banking Group was the top gainer in the index, rising 8 .2 perc ent after results which revealed that the bank’s exposure to bad debt had fallen, helping bring up other banks such as Barclays, which released disappointing results in the previous session.

The FTSE ended October on a downbeat note, losing 1.2 per cent during Wednesday’s trading, following a string of gloomy earnings and outlooks from firms such as BG Group, Barclays and GlaxoSmithKline.

However, stocks recovered yesterday in strong volumes of 140 per cent of the 90-day average. Yesterday’s session made it the 10th first trading day of the month this year out of 11 to have seen positive for the FTSE.

Many firms’ gains reflected their strong reports, above and beyond improved fund flows. Telecoms firm BT Group gained 6.8 per cent, despite missing expectations for second-quarter revenues, as traders pointed to encoraging Ebitda, which was in-line, and earnings, which were slightly ahead.

BSkyB also benefited from good results, up 7.1 per cent in volume of three times its 90-day average, as its first-quarter earnings rose 16 per cent.