STOCKS started yesterday on a positive note as investors sifted though a raft of economic data.
Second-quarter GDP figures released for the eurozone showed a fall of 0.2% quarter on quarter and 0.4% year on year, which was in line with expectations.
This figure was helped by better- than-expected GDP numbers for France and Germany over the quarter. Economists had predicted Germany to deliver 0.2% growth while France was expected to reveal a decline in output as it hovers on the brink of recession.
Figures showed the wider eurozone contracted by 0.2%, but the strong performance from two of its biggest economies helped lift the region’s recovery hopes and boosted the euro.
In the UK there was an unexpected upswing in the annual rate of inflation, as the consumer price index rose from 2.4% to 2.6% in July.
The US rounded things off with better-than-anticipated retail sales figures, showing an increase of 0.8% last month against a forecast of just 0.2%.
The news helped the FTSE 100 Index close the day 32.9 points higher at 5864.8.
The top-performing stock in the FTSE 100 Index was life insurance company Standard Life, following the release of its interim results for the six months to the end of June. Operating profit rose by 15% from a year ago, helped by improved performance in the UK. The shares closed the day up 8.1% at 277.4p.
Elsewhere in the blue chip index, the United Utilities share price moved sharply higher on rumours of possible takeover bids.
Press reports suggested that the UK water company was a target for a pension fund or investment groups from the Far East or China.
Speculation of a 900p a share bid pushed the shares 4.9% higher to close at 722.5p.