- FTSE 100 at highest since March 6th
- Apple, Facebook surge after the closing bell
- AstraZeneca, Anglo American gain after updates
techMARK 2,769.72 +1.01%
FTSE 100 6,721.42 +0.70%
FTSE 250 16,066.89 +0.48%
The FTSE 100 was trading at a seven-week high on Thursday morning as stellar results from US tech giants Apple and Facebook lifted risk appetite in London.
Meanwhile, well-received quarterly updates from UK-listed heavyweights AstraZeneca and Anglo American were also boosting sentiment.
The UK's benchmark index was up 0.7% at 6,721 by midday; it has not closed above this level since March 6th when it finished at 6,788.49.
"Corporate earnings season appears to have given investors the boost they have been craving for months," said Alpari UK analyst Craig Erlam.
"Although results until now have perhaps only been good as a result of the bar once again being set quite low following a number of profit warnings over the last month, there's been a noticeable improvement this week that has given investors a lot more confidence," he said.
Apple's share price surged in after-hours trading last night after the iPhone maker beat forecasts with its quarterly results and added a further $30bn to its share buyback programme.
Social media titan Facebook also rose strongly after it smashed profit forecasts for its first quarter, as a surge in mobile advertising led to a jump in revenues.
The economic data calendar for today looks a little light, though jobless claims figures from the States will be in focus later on as always. Consensus estimates are for a slight pick-up in claims to 310,000 last week, from 304,000 the week before.
AstraZeneca and Anglo American provide a lift
Revenue growth of 3% at AstraZeneca was better than expected in the first quarter, driven by the pharmaceutical company's diabetes franchise. Shares were up early on despite earnings falling more than expected. AstraZeneca's share price surged earlier this week on speculation it could be susceptible to a takeover bid from Pfizer.
Diversified miner Anglo American was making decent gains after impressing with production increases ahead of expectations across the board.
Fellow miner African Barrick Gold was also higher after reporting an 18% increase in gold output in the first quarter, whilst delivering its sixth successive quarterly reduction in costs. The company also announced that is has approved the next step in the optimisation of its Bulyanhulu project and expects production to ramp up.
Meanwhile, gold mining peer Centamin gained after saying that thanks to a new investment law brought in by the Egyptian government, it will try and dismiss an ongoing court case over rights to its Sukari mine in the country.
Consumer goods giant Unilever signalled an upturn in Europe in its first quarter but said growth was slowing in emerging markets as it reported a 6.3% fall in turnover to €11.4bn due to currency headwinds, causing shares
to fall this morning.
FTSE 100 - Risers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,243.00p +4.96%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,593.00p +2.97%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,735.00p +2.91%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 418.20p +2.68%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,228.00p +2.59%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,261.00p +2.26%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,017.00p +2.06%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,294.00p +2.05%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,436.00p +1.99%
Standard Life (SL.) 390.10p +1.99%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Unilever (ULVR) 2,595.00p -1.48%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,930.00p -1.08%
William Hill (WMH) 331.60p -1.04%
SSE (SSE) 1,483.00p -0.94%
Hammerson (HMSO) 576.50p -0.69%
Pearson (PSON) 1,050.00p -0.57%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 369.50p -0.46%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,824.00p -0.44%
G4S (GFS) 239.70p -0.37%
Kingfisher (KGF) 418.50p -0.36%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 61.95p +10.72%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 197.50p +7.45%
Genus (GNS) 1,076.00p +5.59%
Just Retirement Group (JRG) 162.50p +5.25%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 390.40p +4.02%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 256.00p +3.14%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 1,020.00p +2.87%
Cobham (COB) 308.00p +2.67%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 2,074.00p +2.62%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 301.00p +2.56%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Foxtons Group (FOXT) 328.10p -3.07%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,155.00p -2.12%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 127.90p -1.99%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 220.40p -1.96%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 102.00p -1.92%
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 312.90p -1.91%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 1,590.00p -1.85%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,770.00p -1.67%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 358.80p -1.67%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,545.00p -1.39%