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Positive US job figures lift shares in London

Reassuring figures showing that US employers added 217,000 jobs last month ensured London shares finished the week on the front foot yesterday.

The figure, which was in line with Wall Street expectations, fuelled hopes that the US economy will accelerate after a difficult start to the year.

The FTSE 100 Index closed 44.7 points higher at 6858.2, having earlier risen in reaction to Thursday's radical measures from the European Central Bank.

The stimulus package, which includes a negative rate on overnight deposits, has increased the pressure on the euro, which stood slightly lower against the pound at 1.23. The latest positive figures from the US economy meant sterling was slightly lower against the dollar at just under 1.68.

There was little in the way of major corporate news to move shares, although stocks with exposure to emerging markets dominated the fallers board.

Drinks giant Diageo was 30p lower at 1875p, Burberry dropped 16p to 1479p and Flora maker Unilever slipped 44p to 2632p.

Temporary power supply firm Aggreko surged up the FTSE 100 risers board as sentiment continued to improve following the recent appointment of former Centrica director Chris Weston as its new chief executive.

Shares, which fell sharply in the wake of predecessor Rupert Soames' departure, lifted 31p to 1687p, a rise of two per cent.

Centrica was up 5p, or 1.5 per cent, 335.5p amid rumours of bid interest from the Far East.

One of the biggest gains of the session came from British Airways owner International Airlines Group as investors continued to cheer strong passenger traffic figures from earlier in the week. The stock rose 15.2p to 418.9p.

Outside the top flight, Asos received support in the City after its 30 per cent tumble on Thursday in the wake of a second profits warning in three months.

Broker Citi came to the defence of the fashion retailer by arguing the negative currency impact on international revenues had masked 43 per cent sales growth in the UK - the seventh consecutive quarter above 20 per cent.

Citi reiterated Asos as a buy, although it lowered its target price to 3700p from 7000p. Shares recovered some lost ground to rise 7 per cent or 230p to 3350p.

There was also a bounce back for Superdry owner SuperGroup, which neared the top of the FTSE 250 Index risers board with a gain of 4 per cent or 44p to 1142p.

The session saw the return of Game Digital, two years after the video gaming retailer collapsed into administration. The company began conditional dealings with a market value of £340 million after shares were priced at 200p. The shares closed at 195p.

The top FTSE 100 risers were St James's Palace up 32p at 827p, International Airlines Group ahead 15.2p at 418.9p, and Aberdeen Asset Management up 16p at 462p. The biggest fallers were Fresnillo down 16.5p at 775.5p, Smith & Nephew off 22p at 1066p and Unilever down 44p at 2632p.

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