THE FTSE 100 Index made steady progress throughout yesterday, before closing up 40.4 points at 5910.9.
UK employment data announced in the morning showed that the rate of unemployment fell to a 15-month low during the three months to August. US new home construction for September also reached a four-year high.
Mining companies lead the UK large cap index higher, with Eurasian Natural Resources, Kazakhmys and Anglo American gaining 7.2%, 7.2% and 5.3% respectively. BHP Billiton and Xstrata also featured in the FTSE 100 Index’s top 10 risers after announcing production updates which were broadly as expected.
Diageo gave a mixed first quarter sales update. In early trading, investors chose to focus on disappointing sales growth from the Asia Pacific region. However, this is a relatively small market for Diageo, and the US, its largest market, saw a healthy 6% increase in sales. European sales fell by 1%, which was better than expected. The shares pared back losses later in the day to close down just 0.8% at 1768.5p. Vertu Motors, the Gateshead-based car sales group, was the North Index’s biggest riser yesterday after announcing a strong set of interim results for the six months to the end of August.
The group, which has a growth by acquisition strategy, has added 10 new sales outlets to its portfolio. Revenue increased almost 15% to £628.1m, which translated to a 27% rise in profit before tax to £5.2m. Chief executive Robert Forrester, said “Market conditions have improved and this is reflected in higher sales volumes in both new and used cars.” Positive improvements in the market have lead to an 8% increase in like-for-like sales. Revenue from after-sales services also showed a 4% like-for-like improvement. Vertu’s share price rose 8.6% to 38p over the day.