Market Report: Improving sentiment helped the FTSE 100 soar 72.38 points to 6,736

Relief that people are spending in shopping centres helped the mall owner Hammerson to the top of the Footsie yesterday.

It reported a solid 2013, with a 9.2 per cent total return from net asset value growth and dividends. The company reported nearly 98 per cent occupancy, and said rental income is up 2.1 per cent while the final dividend is up 8 per cent.

Liberum Capital's analysts said Hammerson was strong compared with its European peers and its French properties were showing signs of improvement despite the tough outlook.

Liberum said: "We continue to see Hammerson as the best play on UK economic recovery."

Hammerson built up a 17p rise to 560.5p.

The wider market was on the up as improving sentiment helped the FTSE 100 to soar 72.38 points to 6,736.

Reports that RSA Insurance Group plans a £200m sale of its insurance broker business in Canada helped it to advance 2.35p to 98.2p. Banks have been hired to gain interest in Noraxis Capital Corporation, a network of regional Canadian insurance brokers. This was joined by a separate report that the insurer is considering a £350m placing to avoid the need for a full rights issue. Canaccord raised its rating to hold, up from sell with a 95p price target.

The engineer IMI geared up with a 36.28p rise to 1,530p after news of a share consolidation.

Over on the mid-tier table, Essar Energy was in focus after it emerged that its largest shareholder, the billionaire Ruia family, plans to take the Indian oil refiner private and made an offer for the 22 per cent of the company that they do not already own. Its £900m or 70p a share offer is one-sixth of the 420p float price. Essar was 2.15p up at 68.15p.

Investors got to hear about the electrical retailer Dixons' defence over the past few days as rival prepares to launch. Some fears were allayed and Dixons was 1.37p better at 48.4p.

Small cap-listed Shaft Sinkers issued a profit warning and said 2013 revenues would be lower than the year earlier, while profits will be "materially below expectations". It collapsed 2.25p to 14.25p.

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