FTSE roars into 2011 over 6000 mark

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The London Stock Exchange rose 113.9 points to close on Tuesday at 6013.9

The FTSE 100 Index roared into 2011 with a near 2% gain as investors started the new year in a positive mood.

A 6% surge from oil giant BP helped London’s top tier soar 113.9 points to 6013.9 in its first trading day of the year, making up ground lost on New Year’s Eve.

Wall Street saw a more mixed performance, despite more good news from the US manufacturing industry as data showed factory goods orders rose unexpectedly in November.

The data followed robust manufacturing data from America on Monday, which triggered a rally for markets and was mirrored in the UK on Tuesday after the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply recorded the sector’s strongest performance in 16 years. The welcome manufacturing news gave the pound a boost, with sterling higher against most major currencies – up more than 1% to 1.17 euros and 0.7% to 1.56 US dollars.

Among stocks, the focus was firmly on BP after reports that Royal Dutch Shell considered a takeover bid at the time of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Fears over liabilities from the disaster prompted Shell to pull back from making an offer, but the speculation was enough today to help BP shares rise 27.4p to 492.9p.

Analysts also noted comments from the lawyer in charge of BP’s compensation fund that suggested payments could be half the expected level of 20 billion US dollars. At the same time, renewed optimism over the global economy meant oil prices hit more than 90 US dollars, near to a two-year high, before falling back.

UK commodity stocks on the front foot included Eurasian Natural Resources up 33p at 1081p and oil-related stock Tullow Oil ahead 47p at 1308p. Shell was 44.5p higher at 2159.5p after the BP speculation, while Cairn Energy rose 11.6p to 431.6p after it said it would use two rigs to drill up to four exploration wells off Greenland this year.

Other significant risers included Royal Bank of Scotland, whose shares recovered from weakness over Christmas to lift 1.6p to 40.7p. Next, which is due to update the City on its festive trading performance on Wednesday, also rose – up 40p to 2015p.

In corporate news, Blacks Leisure gave the retail sector an unexpected boost on Tuesday by posting December sales figures ahead of market forecasts. The cold snap helped increase like-for-like sales in its outdoor business by 10.2% last month, despite strong comparative figures the previous year. Shares jumped 2.25p to 42.25p, a rise of 6%. Sports Direct International, which has a 14% stake in Blacks Leisure, rallied 4%, up 5.7p to 166p.

The biggest Footsie risers were BP up 27.4p to 492.9p, British Airways ahead 13.4p to 285.9p, Smiths Group up 54p to 1299p and Barclays up 11.1p to 272.8p. The biggest fallers were Compass Group down 13p to 568p, Randgold Resources off 100p to 5175p, International Power down 6.7p to 430.9p and Associated British Foods down 17p to 1164p.

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