FTSE gains: signs of US economic improvement

The top share index in the UK was higher on Thursday as optimism from across the Atlantic spread to UK markets. By the end of the session, the FTSE 100 was higher by more than 34 points, climbing by 0.6 per cent to close at 5400.

Chris Bradshaw
shareprices.com - Friday, December 16, 2011

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Sentiment was boosted by the jobless figures in the US which plummeted to the lowest seen in more than three years whilst factory activity climbed in the Northeastern states. The news was enough to put a smile back on investors' faces but the revival was restrained in the absence of any concrete debt solution coming from the eurozone.

Old Mutual was top of the leaderboard, pleasing shareholders after it announced plans to sell off its Nordic division, Skandia AB. The potential for £2.1 billion to pay off some of its debts led to the shareprice soaring by 11.44 per cent.

Some of its financial peers were also on the up with Legal & General, Prudential and Standard Life higher by 2.68, 2.33 and 2.43 per cent respectively. Fellow South African firm Investec were also stronger, adding 2.89 per cent.

But not all financial firms enjoyed a good day. Resolution, known for its acquisition of 'zombie' life assurance funds dropped by 2.07 per cent whilst its fellow financial outsourcer Capita was also lower, dropping by 0.49 per cent.

Outside the top flight, the biggest news for financial firms was the tentative acquisition of Collins Stewart Hawkpoint. The stockbroker has accepted a bid from Canaccord, a financial services firm based in Canada which would see shareholders receive a payout plus Canaccord shares once the deal goes through. The news was enough to send Collins Stewart Hawkpoint shares rocketing up by 75.25 per cent, reaching 88.50p by close of trade. The Canaccord bid values the shares at approximately 96p.


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