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FTSE surges to six-year high

The FTSE 100 index reached a six-year high last week and is closing on its all-time record of December 1999.

The FTSE hit 6,381 on Friday – some 569 points off its record high but almost two-and-a-half times its bear market low of 2,772 in September 2002.

The market was bolstered by merger and acquisition activity, strong trading in the retail sector and positive reaction to news that the US government is increasing its defence budget.

The retail sector was boosted after the British Retail Consortium announced the strongest January sales figures for the past three years.

Mining shares also rose, with BHP Billiton leading the way after it reported an extra 5.08bn share buyback along with a 41 per cent increase in first-half profits.

Rensburg UK mid-cap growth trust manager Paul Spencer says: “The rally in the market is quite impressive, with FTSE 100 and mid-cap stocks both reaching six-year highs and equities taking rate rises in their stride.

“What is interesting is that the market seems strong across the board, with no dependency on specific sectors – always a good sign.”

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