UK investors took advantage of low volumes on Monday to push the FTSE 100 nearly 1.5 per cent higher, with impressive manufacturing data and delays to potential action on Syria prompting a bullish mood.
"After posting four negative weeks in succession today's market moves on the UK benchmark index could not have been in starker contrast to the moves of the last two weeks," said Senior Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.
The FTSE 100 finished up 93.26 points at 6,506.19, a rise of 1.45% on the day.
Trading volumes across Europe were said to have been low today given that Wall Street was closed for the Labour Day holiday.
Worth noting, in a televised debate overnight in Germany both Chancellor Angela Merkel, and opposition challenger Peer Steinbrueck, ruled out a German military role in a Syrian strike.
Last night the Arab League also stopped short of endorsing an attack.
Manufacturing data impresses
Manufacturing activity in the UK increased at its quickest pace in two and a half years in August, according to the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI). The index's main gauge hit 57.2, higher than an upwardly revised 54.8 in July and better than the consensus forecast of 55. Any reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity.
Analyst Blerina Uruci - from Barclays Research - said: "The strong gains made at the start of Q3 were consolidated, providing further evidence that the recovery is taking root. The improvement remained broadly based and the rise in new orders suggests that this solid performance is likely to continue in the coming months."
Meanwhile, China's manufacturing PMI rose to the 51.0 point mark in August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing in Beijing. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 50.6 and comes after a print of 50.3 in July.
"The news came as a large gasp of air for a market that had become notably bearish on Chinese-linked assets of late," said Financial Trader David White from Spreadex.
Possible Syria intervention hit by delays
Fears of imminent US military action against Syria following the Damascus's alleged chemical weapons attack were calmed over the weekend after President Barack Obama said he would seek approval from Congress before signing off on a strike.
Congress is not due back on Capitol Hill until next week but the Foreign Relations Committee [FRC] said they have arranged meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday this week to discuss the potential strike.
"Congress's role in US military force has too often been abdicated to presidential authority, so I look forward to a vigorous debate on this important authorization," said US Senator Bob Corker, a ranking member of the FRC.
"The American people deserve to hear more from the administration about why military action in Syria is necessary, what it will achieve and how it will be sufficiently limited to keep the US from being drawn further into the Syrian conflict," he said.
FTSE 100: Vodafone jumps on VZW deal
Vodafone jumped after saying this morning it was in "advanced" talks with Verizon Communications about selling its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for $130bn (£84bn). The company confirmed after the close that it has now reached an agreement on the transaction. Shareholders are set to receive 71% of the net proceeds and will receive a bigger full-year dividend.
"We are pleased that our long and successful partnership with Verizon will yield a significant return of value to our shareholders, rewarding them for their continuing support of Vodafone's investment strategy," said Chief Executive Vittorio Colao.
Telecoms peer BT was also a standout performer this morning on the back of upbeat comments from Credit Suisse which reiterated its 'outperform' rating for the shares. The broker said that BT's second-quarter update next month will see rising wholesale fibre adds and a slowdown in the rate of line loss.
Mining stocks on the whole were performing well this morning after data from China impressed. Diversified mining group Rio Tinto was in demand after loading the first shipment of iron ore from its expanded port, rail and mine operations in Australia. Rio said this was a "significant milestone" and marks the start of commissioning of the expansion programme, which is expected to see the company's iron ore operations in Western Australia increase capacity to 290m tonnes a year.
Vedanta Resources was higher after Liberum Capital upgraded the stock to 'buy'. Anglo American and Antofagasta were also making gains.
Fresnillo however was lower after UBS downgraded the stock from 'buy' to 'neutral' following its recent outperformance. In August alone, the spare price rose 27%, while silver and gold prices
rose only 17% and 7%, respectively. The valuation is now looking a little "stretched", UBS said.
Oil stocks were also out of favour as crude prices edged lower. West Texas oil continues to pull back after hitting a two-year high last week on concerns that tensions in Syria could spill over to surrounding regions, leading to potential supply disruptions across the Middle East. Producers BP and Shell were in the red this morning.
Tullow Oil managed to buck the trend though, rising in morning trade despite saying it has plugged and abandoned its Buzio-1 exploration well offshore Mozambique after failing to encounter hydrocarbons.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 368.00p +4.49%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,035.00p +4.19%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,145.00p +4.19%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,284.00p +4.14%
BT Group (BT.A) 338.20p +3.97%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,536.00p +3.89%
Standard Life (SL.) 343.50p +3.71%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 885.50p +3.57%
Prudential (PRU) 1,116.00p +3.52%
WPP (WPP) 1,237.00p +3.51%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,275.00p -2.15%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 2,075.00p -0.60%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,065.00p -0.39%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 2,165.00p -0.37%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 227.70p -0.31%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,623.00p -0.25%
BP (BP.) 445.55p -0.15%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 177.30p +6.68%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 361.30p +5.74%
Henderson Group (HGG) 174.30p +5.64%
Inmarsat (ISAT) 732.50p +5.40%
Fenner (FENR) 360.40p +5.07%
Oxford Instruments (OXIG) 1,500.00p +4.97%
Countrywide (CWD) 576.00p +4.73%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 270.00p +4.73%
Diploma (DPLM) 628.00p +4.67%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 103.90p +4.53%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Xaar (XAR) 783.00p -3.69%
Polymetal International (POLY) 736.00p -2.58%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 185.70p -2.26%
Rank Group (RNK) 157.00p -2.06%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 323.90p -2.00%
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 108.10p -1.73%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 257.60p -1.45%
F&C Asset Management (FCAM) 95.60p -1.44%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 3,955.00p -1.37%
Bumi (BUMI) 215.00p -1.19%