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London markets climb on back of updates for FTSE firms

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City traders had a positive session on a busy day for corporate reporting despite the latest rail strike keeping thousands of commuters at home again.

Strong updates for a raft of FTSE firms including Lloyds Bank and Reckitt helped London’s biggest index to its highest level for over two weeks.

The FTSE 100 ended the day up 41.95 points, or 0.57%, at 7,348.23.

“It’s a sign of the times that even slow growth is being cheerfully embraced by investors,” commented AJ Bell’s Danni Hewson.

“Updates from Microsoft and Google owner Alphabet missed estimates but were robust enough to calm nerves which had been frayed last week by updates from Snap and Twitter.

“In London a decent set of earnings updates from packaging company Smurfit Kappa, Lloyds Bank and consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser boosted the FTSE 100.”

Elsewhere in Europe, the main markets were also higher as traders tentatively awaited a potentially significant hike in interest rates by the Federal Reserve in the US.

The German Dax increased 0.57% by the end of the session while the French Cac improved by 0.84%.

Across the Atlantic, Wall Street’s main markets climbed after the opening bell despite mixed economic data.

Meanwhile, the major currencies were treading water ahead of the latest Fed meeting.

The pound was down 0.06% against the dollar at 1.202 but was 0.03% higher against the euro at 1.189 at the close.

In company news, banking giant Lloyds had a strong session after the FTSE 100 firm posted better-than-expected half-year profits.

The high street lending giant reported a 6% fall in profits to £3.7 billion in the first six months of 2022 after setting a £377 million loan loss provision, though the result was better than the £3.2 billion predicted in the market.

Shares were 1.79p higher at 45.32p at the close of play.

Dettol manufacturer Reckitt made gains after it reported a surge in revenues, driven by significant price increases.

The business said on Wednesday that it had increased prices by 9.7% in the second quarter of the year, compared to a year ago, leading to a 11.9% rise in revenues. Reckitt closed the session up 176p at 6,550p.

Pub owner Marston’s was higher for the day after strong drink sales helped to offset cooling demand for food from customers.

Shares rose by 1.68p to 48.68p despite the company highlighting a jump in energy costs.

The price of oil lifted on the back of a broad rise in energy prices, driven by natural gas prices spiking to a four-month-high due to Russia cutting back its supply to the EU.

Brent crude oil increased by 2.1% to 106.59 US dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 were Smurfit Kappa, up 148p at 2,850p, IAG, up 5.9p at 119.06p, Mondi, up 66.5p at 1,483p, Ocado, up 32.8p at 768.8p, and Lloyds, up 1.79p at 45.32p.

The biggest fallers of the session were Unite Group, down 68p at 1,112p, JD Sports, down 1.95p at 125.8p, Rio Tinto, down 65p at 4,758.5p, Dechra Pharmaceuticals, down 48p at 3,600p, and British Land, down 5.1p at 476.8p.

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