Leaders close in excellent shape


A big bear squeeze in the FTSE future, plus a burst of speculation that a reduction in German interest rates is now much more likely, gave London's equity market a substantial boost at the outset of trading yesterday.

And although the initial burst of buying in the futures pit ran out of steam and talk of a German rate cut was later played down, the UK stock market still ended in good shape.

The front-line stocks, represented by the FTSE 100 index, closed 14.4 firmer at 5,231.5 and there were few problems for the rest of the market. The FTSE 250 index shrugged off Friday's marginal decline, which brought a halt to a 10-session sequence of winning performances, and moved ahead to end the day with an 11.6 improvement at 4,663.8.

There was no stopping the FTSE SmallCap index, which extended its run of upside performances to a 10th straight session, finishing the day 8.5 better at 1,953.6.