London’s FTSE 100 Index closed at a near-three month high today as figures showed the US unemployment rate falling to its lowest level for four years.
The top flight closed 13 points higher at 5,914.4 after the US jobs report offset earlier concerns over the UK economy following dire manufacturing figures.
Marks & Spencer featured on the blue-chip index’s fallers board however, with a decline of 4.2p to 393.6p after Goldman Sachs downgraded the retailer to sell from neutral.
Outside the FTSE 100 Index, shares in housebuilder Berkeley jumped 5% after it unveiled the first payment in a decade-long plan to return £1.7billion to shareholders. The interim dividend of 15p a share came as it reported a 40.7% rise in half-year profits to £142.2million. Shares lifted 78p to £17.28.
Fellow builder Bellway was 1p lower at £10.05, even though it said completions were set to increase by around 5% in the six months to January 31, with the operating margin slightly better than the previous half year.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Polymetal International up 22p to £10.88, Shire ahead 36p to £19, Burberry 24p higher at £13.05 and IMI up 18p to £10.90.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were International Airline Group down 3.2p to 171.2p, ITV off 1.2p to 101.8p, G4S 2.9p lower at 249.2p and Pearson down 13p to £11.77.
Elaine McLachlan, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Inverness, noted that the day’s risers included Plexus Holdings, up 4.5% to 281.8p, Johnston Press rising 2.8% to 13.8p and John Menzies up 2.7% at 611.8p.
Fallers included Faroe Petroleum off 5.2% at 128.5p, Parkmead Group down 3.9% at 12p and EnQuest falling 2.6% to 115.2p.