US retail figures support FTSE gains led by banking and commodity stocks

A rise in commodity shares and banks hauled the leading share index higher yesterday, with better than expected US retail sales numbers also helping, providing a boost to global recovery hopes.

At the close the FTSE 100 was up 23.54 points, or 0.4 per cent at 5,820.41, nearer the session peak of 5,832.88 than the intraday low of 5,755.68.

Miners were a strong factor in the gains as the sector recovered after recent falls, helped by improved prospects for the US economy.

Lonmin stood out, up four per cent, as the platinum producer posted a swing to full-year profit and restarted dividends, prompting JP Morgan to raise its rating to “neutral” from “underweight”.

BHP Billiton added 1.8 per cent after the miner scrapped its $39bn bid for Canada’s Potash Corp, and revived a $4.2bn share buyback plan instead.

Early strength on Wall Street also boosted the FTSE.

“The good US data has helped push the underlying market worries aside for the moment, although European debt concerns remain, and the underlying mood continues to be volatile,” said Mic Mills, head of electronic trading at ETX Capital.

Integrated oils also gained in London as the crude price firmed, with Royal Dutch Shell up 0.4 per cent.

BP added 0.6 per cent as the firm, which is in the process of raising $25bn to $30bn by the end of 2011 to help pay for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, agreed to sell its southern Africa forecourt network.

Explorer Tullow Oil was strong, up 1.4 per cent after Anadarko Petroleum said its Mercury-1 oil well located in the waters off the Sierra Leone coast, in which Tullow has a 10 per cent stake, encountered oil.