Strong US jobs data pushes FTSE higher

Investors were surprised by the latest employment data in the US, which was better than expected as 227,000 new jobs were created in January.

Financial stocks continued their rally on reports that US president Donald Trump would take steps to dismantle regulations brought in to prevent another financial crisis.

High street banks Barclays (BARC) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) were among the top stocks, while financial service companies Prudential (PRU) and Aviva (AV.) made smaller gains.

Stronger banks outweighed losses among miners as China raised short term interest rates, resulting in a 0.7% jump in the blue-chip FTSE 100 index to 7,188.

In the UK, service sector growth eased as the Purchasing Managers’ Index fell for the first time since September to 54.5.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil slipped 1% higher to $54 and $57 per barrel, respectively.

Gold was stable at $1,218 per ounce, but copper cheapened by 1.4% to $5,820 per tonne.

On Wall Street, investors were encouraged by the upbeat employment data, prompting a rise of 0.5% in the S&P 500.

The Dow Jones index opened 0.7% higher as credit card provider American Express and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer were among the top five stocks.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

British Airways owner International Consolidated Group (IAG) nudged ahead on the stock market by 0.3% after carrying 5.5% more passengers in January, up from 6,338 customers in January 2016.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Life insurer Beazley (BEZ) reassured the market after CEO Andrew Horton reported a good performance ‘across the board’ for 2016. It generated taxable profits of $293.2m compared to $284m in 2015, despite challenging underwriting conditions in its business.

Boiler protection specialists Homeserve (HSV) bought a 40% stake in website Checkatrade, which allows people to find plumbers and electricians. The company also made a similar investment its Spanish equivalent service called Habitissimo.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

NetDimensions (NETD) jumped 21% to 95p after revealing a 100p per share cash takeover approach from Learning Technologies (LTG)

It was game over for mobile payment company Zamano (ZMNO) as it will wind down its business lines after regulatory changes hit its cash flow. The stock crashed 24% to 3.6p.

Newspaper publisher Johnston Press (JPR) rebounded from post-Brexit vote blues and said 2016 results would be in line with forecasts. Last summer, the group struggled with difficult trading as a result of volatility following the EU referendum.

Fourth quarter trading improved as revenues nudged 1% higher year-on-year, which was driven by a strong performance from the ‘I’ newspaper.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com