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B&Q owner leads big bounce back at FTSE

B&Q owner Kingfisher and budget airline easyJet set a blistering pace on the FTSE 100 Index as the London market staged an impressive bounce back.

Financial updates saw Kingfisher shares leap 6% ahead while easyJet rose 4% amid a wider rebound on the top flight, up 84.5 points to 6604.9 as it regained losses seen yesterday due to fears of Russian sanctions and weak manufacturing data in China and the eurozone.

Mining stocks were lifted amid expectations that China might announce stimulus measures on the back of disappointing figures.

A strong start to trading on Wall Street helped fuel the rebound, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average nearly 80 points higher at the time of close in London.

Sentiment was boosted after a gauge of US consumer confidence beat expectations.

In currency markets, the pound held firm at 1.65 US dollars and 1.20 euros. The euro weakened earlier in the session after European policymakers signalled the potential for further monetary easing to avoid deflation in the euro zone.

Among stocks in London, Kingfisher led gains after the DIY group announced plans to return £200 million to shareholders in the current financial year.

The move came as the company met City expectations with a 4% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £744m and also lifted its dividend by nearly 5%. Shares surged 24.3p higher to 430.8p.

Airline stock easyJet continued its impressive performance in the FTSE 100 after it narrowed its guidance for losses in the seasonally quieter first half of its financial year.

The company now expects a deficit of £55m to £65m, compared with guidance in January of £70m to £90m and losses of £61m a year ago.

Shares, which have more than doubled since the start of 2013, were up by another 60p to 1692p.

The rally in the mining sector saw Anglo American rise 4% or 58p to 1498p and Rio Tinto improve 94p to 3283p.

But Royal Mail shares suffered after the group's announcement that it is planning up to 1,600 job cuts fuelled fears of strike action by unions.

Shares were 18.5p lower at 565.5p, even though the delivery firm said current trading has been in line with expectations.

Lloyds Banking Group - up 0.6p to 79.1p - was also in the spotlight after the Government's announcement after market close that it will sell down its stake further by selling another chunk to institutional investors, raising around £4.2 billion for the taxpayer. The move will reduce the Government's stake to 25% from 33% currently.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Kingfisher, up 24.3p to 430.8p, SABMiller off 143p at 2978p, Anglo American 58p stronger at 1498p and easyJet 60p higher at 1692p.

Biggest fallers were Carnival down 113p to 2343p and Royal Mail off 18.5p to 565.5p.

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