Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Footsie Gains despite US Economic Gloom

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Footsie Gains despite US Economic Gloom

Article excerpt

Byline: MALCOLM WITHERS

INVESTORS shrugged off another set of gloomy US economic data today, despite mounting fears the consumer-driven recovery in the world's biggest economy is stalling.

Disastrous car sales sent overall retail sales tumbling by 1.2% in September - the weakest month-on-month figure since last November. Stripping out car purchases, retail sales edged up by a feeble 0.1%.

Meanwhile, a separate report showed consumer confidence has slumped over the past month as the moribund job market and stock market turmoil has eaten into US optimism. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped from 86.1 to 80.4.

City investors shrugged off mediocre US figures, pushing the market ahead.

The FTSE 100 index was 124.5 points up at 3901.8.

Bank stocks took the lead, Barclays leading the pack, up 203/4p to 4203/4p. It was followed by Royal Bank of Scotland, gaining 68p to 1372p, HBOS, up 22p to 617p, and Lloyds TSB, adding Banks were joined by pharmaceuticals, led by GlaxoSmithKline, to give further impetus to markets.

GSK enjoyed a 29p runup to 1300p as the US Food and Drug Administration approved its Avandamet treatment for diabetes. AstraZeneca was also influential with a 58p rise to 2058p. Royal & SunAlliance ignored a cut in its credit rating by Moody's Investors Services, which also hinted it could be heading for another downgrade, and it rose 4p to 95p.

Support services group Hays was moved to underweight from overweight by Morgan Stanley after it lowered its earnings per share forecast by 20% in 2003. The shares failed to respond to the gloomy prognosis and added 23/4p to 953/4p.

More brokers joined Warburg in putting the boot into Reuters. The share price today fell 9p to an all-time low of 1781/2p before recovering to 188p. …

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