MARKET REPORT: FTSE ends day above 7,000 for first time since November, capping off a week in which the index of blue-chip shares advanced around 3pc in value

Ian Lyall For The Daily Mail

The FTSE 100 ended the day above 7,000 for the first time since November, capping off a week in which the index of blue-chip shares advanced around 3 per cent in value.

Better than expected US jobs data boosted confidence on this side of Atlantic as the world’s largest economy added to the payroll for the 100th successive straight month.

The index of UK blue-chips closed 0.7 per cent, or 51.37 points higher, at 7,020.22, ending in the black for the fourth successive day.

‘It’s been a great week for miners and oil giants so that is always going to translate into a good performance for the Footsie because of the make-up of the index,’ said Neil Wilson, analyst at Markets.

‘Shell up 5 per cent for the week makes a big difference due to its weighting. Generally, UK stocks have benefited from improved global equity picture and firmer risk sentiment in the US with the dove-ish Fed and some better news on China and trade.’

The market isn’t putting too much store in US giant Berry Group being able to deliver a knock-out takeover deal for UK packaging firm RPC. Shares fell 0.25 per cent, or 2p, to 793p, not much more than the 782p private equity group Apollo has tabled.

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Unilever (up 2 per cent, or 80.5p, to 4065p) clawed back a little of the ground it lost in the wake of its prelims on Thursday. The Magnum ice-cream maker’s results came with a warning on cost and currency headwinds.

Management had been ‘defensive’ on the call after the figures, one analyst revealed.

A warning on cobalt sales saw shares in Glencore slide 1 per cent, 3.25p, to 306.2p. After a strong week, the wider sector succumbed to a bout of mild profit-taking, with Mexican sliver miner Fresnillo (the FTSE 100’s biggest riser of the week), down 3.4 per cent, or 34.6p, 970.4p, bearing the brunt.

Dropping down a division to the FTSE 250, Talk Talk fell 4.8 per cent, or 5.3p, to 106.3p following an earnings alert.

Looking ahead, the Bank of England is gearing up for Super Thursday – interest rate decision day, which coincides with the publication of inflation data and an update on quantitative easing.

‘The trend for hyping up a day of sporting events has spilled over into the world of finance, and perhaps even the Bank of England was surprised when it too got its own Super Thursday,’ said market strategist Lee Wild of Interactive Investor.

Anyway, the February 7 announcements are unlikely to contain anything exciting or controversial with the Bank expected to stand pat on interest rates.

It should be more interesting on the company front with trading updates and earnings from Thomas Cook Group, Ocado, Superdry (which is in a spat with the company’s founder) Ryanair, Barratt and Bellway.

You could sense the relief among investors in furniture and floorings retailer ScS Group (down 1.1 per cent, or 2.5p, to 225.5p) after it ruled out a takeover of online furniture seller Sofa. This clears the path for boss Mike Ashley, main shareholder in Sports Direct (up 1.4 per cent, or 3.9p, at 282.1p), to make an offer of his own.

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Up around 50 per cent in the last month, advertising group M&C Saatchi jumped a further 14 per cent, or 40p, to 325p. That said, the stock was trading at over 400p last year.

Providence Resources was also among the market’s top performers. The Ireland-focused oil firm said a rig had been chosen to drill the Barryroe Field in the Celtic Sea later this year. Shares were up 11.8 per cent, or 1.57p, at 14.9p.



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