- Footsie closes at highest level in over four and a half years
- US non-farm payrolls and ISM data provides a boost
- BP gains after Transocean settlement with US government
London's stock market started 2013 strongly in the aftermath of the fiscal cliff deal in the US on New Year's Day, with the FTSE 100 gaining 192.5 points over the first three trading sessions of the year.
Equities on Friday were helped by some better-than-expected economic figures Stateside, which bolstered the outlook for the world's largest economy. The FTSE 100 finished up 0.7% on the day at 6,090; it has not closed higher than this level since May 2008.
After a subdued start on markets this morning - owing to the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting released last night - the Footsie rallied after American non-farm payrolls increased by 155,000 in December, ahead of the 152,000 consensus estimate. Meanwhile, gains were cemented this afternoon after the US ISM service-sector purchasing managers' index rose from 54.7 to 56.1, surprising analysts who had expected a slight fall to 54.2.
Investors seemed to shrug off the news that the UK services PMI fell to 48.9 last month, after a reading of 50.2 in November. Consensus forecasts for no change.
The minutes of the December Federal Open Market Committee knocked market sentiment early on this morning. While they showed a clear majority in favour of further asset purchases (the third round of quantitative easing, or QE3), members were divided on the timing of these purchases.
"Indecision between members pointed to a split between those who believe QE is a necessary ongoing task, and those who believe it is proving ineffective," explained research analyst Joshua Mahony from Alpari.
FTSE 100: BP gains after Transocean settlement
Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean has reached a $1.4bn settlement with the US Department of Justice, causing shares
in operator BP to rise in London. Transocean, the world's largest offshore drilling contractor, agreed yesterday to plead guilty to one misdemeanour violation of the Clean Water Act for "negligent discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico".
Nevertheless, the wider resource sector was under the weather, with Fresnillo, Randgold, Petrofac and Polymetal all registering losses. Fresnillo was the heaviest faller after UBS cut its recommendation for the shares to 'neutral'. Analyst Chris Lichtenheldt noted that the stock currently trades at 1.26 times net asset value and 18.7 times 2013 cash flow, 48% and 44% higher than the North American peer group, respectively.
Sector peer Anglo American was also in the red after agreeing to sell its 70% interest in the Amapá iron ore mine in Brazil. The terms of the deal with Zamin Ferrous are confidential and subject to state regulatory approval, but the company said it was expected to complete in 2013.
High Street retailer Marks & Spencer fell after Nomura lowered its full-year (ending March 2013) profit before tax forecast from £694m to £666m, based on recent Kanta market data.
Real estate investment trust Hammerson was dampened by Credit Suisse after the broker downgraded its rating for the stock to 'neutral'.
Power systems giant Rolls-Royce rose after revealing that it is to provide repair and support services for aircraft engines operated by the US Marine Corps and Air Force as part of a contract worth $52.2m.
FTSE 250: Bank of Georgia up after Numis boost
Bank of Georgia Holdings was among the best performers after Numis initiated its rating on the stock at 'buy', with a target price of 1,453p.
Balfour Beatty, the global infrastructure group, was also on the up after it announced that it has been awarded a five-year highway maintenance contract by Wiltshire Council worth £150m.
As on the top tier index, miners were registering the biggest falls, tracking metal prices lower. Hochschild, Petropavlovsk, Bumi and Lonmin all took a hit.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BP (BP.) 453.50p +2.67%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 721.00p +2.41%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,290.00p +2.30%
Schroders (SDR) 1,802.00p +2.21%
BT Group (BT.A) 242.80p +1.89%
Experian (EXPN) 1,033.00p +1.77%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 160.05p +1.68%
Standard Life (SL.) 352.10p +1.65%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,174.50p +1.62%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,147.00p +1.37%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,975.00p -4.09%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,810.00p -3.98%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,174.00p -3.69%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 376.40p -3.09%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,343.00p -1.97%
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 811.50p -1.76%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,613.00p -1.24%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,335.00p -1.18%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,275.00p -1.09%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 741.50p -1.00%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Chemring Group (CHG) 264.10p +4.14%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 380.80p +3.73%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 1,140.00p +3.64%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 304.10p +3.61%
Premier Farnell (PFL) 201.10p +3.50%
Laird (LRD) 222.10p +3.49%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 690.00p +2.99%
Senior (SNR) 214.20p +2.88%
KCOM Group (KCOM) 72.05p +2.56%
RPS Group (RPS) 215.90p +2.52%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Petropavlovsk (POG) 359.30p -4.21%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 473.30p -3.72%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 381.30p -3.08%
Fenner (FENR) 425.00p -2.34%
Bumi (BUMI) 268.70p -2.29%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,130.00p -1.99%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 34.30p -1.94%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 96.00p -1.94%
Betfair Group (BET) 670.50p -1.90%
Lonmin (LMI) 290.80p -1.89%