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Spread betting: financial markets commentary

April 01, 2008

The US markets turned sharply higher virtually from the opening bell as traders ushered in the second quarter of the year with a bang! The leading indices all recorded strong gains as emerging positive sentiment was buoyed by encouraging news on the economic front.

The move higher in the major US indices was led by technology stocks as the Nasdaq Composite Index raced 3.67% higher to finish the trading session at 2362.75, a gain of 83.65 on the previous close. The Standard and Poor’s S&P500 Index was not too far behind with a gain of 3.59% or 47.48 points to end at 1370.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a 391.47-point gain—a move of 3.19% for the session to close at 12654.36.

Traders in London anticipated the rally on Wall Street from the opening bell as US index futures pointed sharply higher. The FTSE 100 made a strong start and got a second wind as the US markets opened in the afternoon in London.

The Footsie rally was led by stocks in the banking and retail sectors as market expectations that the worst of the write-downs may be over for the banks filtered through trading floors in the City. The FTSE 100 finished just off its highest levels for the trading session, closing at 5852.6 for a gain of 2.64% for the day.

In the mid-cap sector, the FTSE 250 index closed 3.23% higher at 10,336.2 and the techMARK index of leading technology stocks was 3.22% better off at 1,391.6. So overall, a very good day for UK stockmarket bulls.

The main leaders and losers (yes, there were still some of those—even on such a strong day) on the London Stock Exchange are outlined below:

FTSE 100 - winners

HBOS [+7.95%]
Kingfisher [+7.80%]
Home Retail Group [+7.46%]
Friends Provident [+7.44%]
Royal Bank of Scotland [+7.04%]

FTSE 100 - losers

Lonmin [-2.44%]
BG Group [-1.97%]
Xstrata [-1.50%]
Antofagasta [-1.50%]
Anglo American [-1.45%]

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