Britain’s banks helped fire up the FTSE 100, with the Asia-focused Standard Chartered leading the charge on the back of hopes for fresh stimulus measures from Beijing.
China had looked like spoiling the party, as official data showed that imports to the world’s second-biggest economy last month were down 14.2 per cent on a year earlier, while exports had dropped 5.5 per cent. But some investors instead decided that the weakness was likely to trigger further action from Beijing to support the economy.
Standard Chartered pulled off a 19.8p gain to close at 721.2p, while HSBC, which also has a big presence in the Far East, jumped 10.2p to 504.2p. Barclays and Hargreaves Lansdown joined them, ending 5.5p up at 258.5p and 26p higher at 1,115p respectively.
The FTSE 100 itself closed 71.58 points up at 6,146.1 on an upward revision to eurozone economic growth, a positive start on Wall Street and a strong performance from the mining sector.
Among the miners Glencore rose 5.8p to 137.6p, spurred on by the China data, which showed that copper imports had actually held up in August. Anglo American followed with a 26.2p leap to 703.9p, as did Fresnillo, 16.5p higher at 619p, and Rio Tinto, 58.5p to the good at 2,309.5p.
On the FTSE 250, Amlin’s takeover by Japan’s Mitsui Sumitomo had positive knock-on effects for its fellow insurers. Lancashire Holdings climbed 32p to 685p, Beazley added 11.8p to reach 339.7p, and Hiscox rose 29p to 920p. Amlin itself led the mid-cap index with a 162.5p gain to 655p.
Fate wasn’t so kind to the animal genetics company Genus, which dropped 25p to end at 1,350p despite reporting 19 per cent rise in full-year profits – with analysts highlighting tough end markets.
Fitbug, the AIM-listed maker of fitness trackers, endured a 0.25p fall in its share price to 2.5p after chairman Fergus Kee said he was stepping down. The announcement came just over a week after Anna Gudmundson was appointed as chief executive. Two non-executive directors will take over his position while a successor is found.
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