STOCK markets around the world were on a firmer footing yesterday after a plethora of strong results in Europe, followed by an encouraging bond auction in Italy, which depressed Italian yields to their lowest level since mid-2011.
The FTSE 100 Index was 51 points higher at 5846, despite authorities confirming that the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stock market would remain closed.
All was not calm, however, as the aftermath of hurricane Sandy – and the storm surge brought with it – continued to wreak havoc on the east coast of America, halting trading on the New York Stock Exchange for the second day running. In London, Europe’s second largest oil company, BP, surprised investors and analysts alike with a dividend increase, as third quarter results beat expectations. Net income reached £3.4bn from £3bn a year earlier, aided by strong refining margins and the highest level of crude oil processed in its refineries for seven years. Shares in BP were the biggest mover on the day, closing up some 4.2%. Chief executive Bob Dudley hailed the group’s “strong progress”, despite profits falling to £3.2bn as its disposal plan hit production.
Also beating analyst expectations was Imperial Tobacco, with both earnings per share and the dividend surprising on the upside. While sales volumes in Spain were a touch weaker than predicted, growth in the rest of the world impressed. The full year dividend was increased by 11% and the shares ended 1.6% higher.
It was a mixed day for the banks, with Barclays featuring high up the FTSE leaders’ board, while shares in Standard Chartered languished at the other end of the spectrum following a third quarter update which was largely overshadowed by its costly £211.4m fine in August, in settlement of its dealings with Iran.
There was little to report in the regional portfolio.