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UK Equities
Ashtead cements place at top of FTSE 100
From the Financial Times of Wed, 10 Dec 2014 09:47:44 GMT

There were further signs of the impact of the construction boom on the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, after strong numbers from tool hire company Ashtead sent it to the top of the leaderboard.

The company said its full-year earnings would beat forecasts after its income in the second quarter rose by a third to £266m, ahead of expectations. Ashtead’s dominant unit, Sunbelt Rentals of the US, reported first-half revenues of £827.1m and its UK unit A-Plant brought in £165.6m.

“The results show that the company continues to benefit from the non-residential construction recovery in the US, take market share and improve its margin as it benefits from its scale and strong underlying rate growth in the market,” said Josh Puddle, analyst at Berenberg.

Ashtead’s stock rose 6.3 per cent to £11.45, a record high.

Overall the FTSE 100 rose 0.4 per cent to 6,554.47, a rebound of 25 points. The main London index had fallen 2.1 per cent on Tuesday — its sharpest daily fall in over two years — as worries increased over the implications for global growth of fresh political turbulence on the eurozone periphery, in the form of a snap election in Greece. The FTSE 100’s rebound was in line with calmer conditions on global markets indices on Wednesday.

“Markets are staging a slight relief rally after a truly torrid day yesterday,” said Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

“However, many investors remain wary, as concerns over the possibility of a win by Greek anti-austerity party Syriza raise the spectre of a return to more serious European issues.”

There was some relief for shares in Tullow Oil, which have borne the brunt of the sell-off in oil stocks in reaction to tumbling crude prices. Having fallen 44 per cent since September, Tullow’s shares regained 3.9 per cent to 405.6p on Wednesday.

Tesco also recovered some poise after it fell 6.6 per cent on Tuesday following its fourth profit warning in a year. The stock bounced 0.8 per cent higher to 176p, trimming its slump over 2014 to 48 per cent.

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