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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Irish debt hope boosts FTSE 100

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London’s FTSE 100 Index has staged a bounce back amid growing confidence that Ireland will resolve its debt crisis.

The arrival in Dublin of a rescue team from the International Monetary Fund fuelled speculation that the country will soon receive tens of billions of euros in loans in an effort to provide much-needed stability to the European financial system.

The FTSE 100 Index reclaimed some of the hefty losses seen in recent sessions, closing 76.2 points higher at 5768.7.

Stocks also bounded ahead on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.6%, while indices across Europe were likewise higher on investor cheer.

A fall in the value of the US dollar made commodity stocks more attractive to investors and the greenback’s weakness helped the pound strengthen, to 1.60 dollars.

There was further encouragement from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development after it said that economic growth in the world’s most developed economies will gradually pick up pace over the coming two years although the recovery will be uneven.

The developments in the Irish debt crisis eased pressure on UK banks as Lloyds Banking Group lifted 1.4p to 67.8p and Royal Bank of Scotland cheered 0.3p to 42p. The mining sector also benefited from hopes that China will not use higher interest rates as a way of slowing inflation, helping lift Rio Tinto by 134p to 4281.5p and Kazakhmys by 44p to 1470p.

The biggest rise of the session came from SABMiller, which added 105p to 2157p after the maker of beers including Grolsch and Peroni Nastro Azzurro posted better-than-expected profits for the first half of the year.

There was a similar shares boost for defence technology firm Qinetiq in the FTSE 250 Index after it reassured investors with a rise in half-year profits and as it said it remained on track to meet full-year guidance. Shares jumped 14% or 13.5p to 112.5p after Qinetiq also announced a major fall in its debt pile following ongoing restructuring measures.

The biggest Footsie risers were SABMiller up 105p to 2157p, Fresnillo ahead 68p to 1414p, British Airways up 11.5p to 272.9p and InterContinental Hotels up 37p to 1139p and the biggest Footsie fallers were Intertek Group down 122p to 1828p, Capita off 32p to 690p, Capital Shopping Centres down 5.7p to 372p and Reed Elsevier down 7p to 529p.

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