Footsie gallops to record high

Shares on Wall Street could not sustain their latest dramatic surge yesterday. But their gain the previous day, along with a further slide in sterling's exchange rate, helped shares in London set a record.

The FTSE 100 index climbed by nearly 14 points to close at 4,341. Across the Atlantic, investors took advantage of the Dow Jones index bursting through the 7,000 barrier on Thursday to take profits yesterday, despite new figures signalling the absence of immediate inflationary pressures in the American economy. The index was 29 points lower at 6,992 in closing trade. The Dow's gain of more than 1,000 points in only four months reflects investors' optimism about the strength of the US economy, although some experts remain fearful that share prices could fall sharply from their giddy heights. Just two months ago Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, warned about the "irrational exuberance" of the financial markets.

A batch of statistics yesterday showed an unexpected fall in prices charged by manufacturers in January, along with flat industrial production and unchanged consumer confidence. The general picture was one of steady growth putting no pressure on the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates in the near future. Jonathan Basile, an economist at HSBC Markets in New York, described the figures as "Fed-friendly".

Marilyn Schaja, an economist at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, said: "The economy is slowing down from the torrid pace of the fourth quarter."

The harsh winter explained the absence of any increase in industrial output last month. Snow and storms led to a fall in hours worked in manufacturing and mining.

Energy output rose sharply, also thanks to the weather, and output of business equipment - mainly computers and trucks - built up speed. Analysts said the total production figure was likely to rebound in February. Even with the wintry slowdown, manufacturing output last month was 5.1 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Yet the continuing recovery in industry has not yet fed through into higher prices at the factory gate.

Separate figures showed that these fell by 0.3 per cent last month, their first decline since October 1994.

Lower oil prices accounted for the unexpectedly good news, and should feed into producer prices for the next few months.

Separately, the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment was unchanged between January and February.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea