LONDON (ShareCast) – – FTSE closes up 72 points at 6,736
– Hammerson (Other OTC: HMSNF – news) and RSA lead risers
– UK inflation due out tomorrow
– House prices up 3.3 per cent in February

techMARK 2,857.31 +0.90%
FTSE 100 6,736.00 +1.09%
FTSE 250 16,244.71 +0.83%

Stocks ended the day with strong gains, driven by both Hammerson and RSA Insurance (LSE: RSA.L – news) on what has been a quiet day for markets.

The FTSE 100 settled 72.38 higher at 6,736, marking a gains of 1.09%.

The gains come ahead of tomorrow’s release of monthly UK inflation figures, which are expected to show that January consumer prices held steady at 2%.

Helping drive today’s rally was data out overnight from China, which revealed borrowing for January was above expectations. Loans for the four-week period leapt to 1.32trn yuan from 482.5bn yuan in December and 1.07bn in the same period a year earlier, indicating that borrowing hasn’t been affected by fears over credit expansion.

Traders have also welcomed the departure of Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta last week. Letta fell on his sword after his party backed calls for a new administration, with Matteo Renzi, who has this morning been asked to form a new government, saying a change was needed to end the “uncertainty” and lack of action over the country’s economic situation.

Meanwhile, and back in the UK, three former employees of Barclays (LSE: BARC.L – news) have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in connection with its investigation into the manipulation of Libor, the inter-bank lending rate. The charges, all of which are for conspiracy to defraud, relate to events between June 1st 2005 and August 31st 2007. The FTSE is up 70 points at 6,734.

In other news, a survey of professional managers showed that fewer UK firms are planning on hiring new staff and instead opting to get the most out of existing employees. The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that 54% of firms surveyed between December 12th and December 24th said they were looking to recruit staff, the lowest proportion since the survey began in 2010.

UK house prices accelerate further in February

UK house prices rose in February as demand continued to outpace supply, according to estate agency Rightmove (LSE: RMV.L – news) today. The average asking prices of homes was £251.964 this month, up 3.3% on January and the strongest monthly increase since October 2012. On the year prices were up 6.9% from February, the sharpest gain since November 2007. In January prices rose 1% on the month and by 6.3% year-on-year.

Hammerson leads the risers on strong results

Hammerson is in the top spot today, after it reported a rise in annual profits, driven by strong demand for retail property. The property group posted pre-tax profit for the year ended December 31st 2013 of £341.2m, up from £142.2m the previous year, as like-for-like net rental income climbed 2.1% to £282.8m. During the period the group secured £24m of new rents, compared to £19m in 2012.

Both Imperial Tobacco Group and British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L – news) were performing strongly after the latter today began a TV advertising campaign for its new e-cigarette. Imperial is due to launch its own version later this year.

RSA Insurance was also charging higher following a report out over the weekend from the Financial Times that said the company is set to raise up to £350m in an emergency share sale that would avoid a rights issue. The group’s shares have suffered since it was revealed accounting problems in Ireland (Other OTC: IRLD – news) had resulted in a huge hole in its balance sheet.

IMI (Frankfurt: IMI.F – news) shares climbed following the company’s confirmation of a share capital consolidation taking place today.

Vodafone Group was given a lift by broker Jefferies, which upped its target price from 216p to 238p.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen Asset Management (Other OTC: ABDNF – news) shares declined following Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB – news) ‘s decision to reduce its target price from 600p to 540p.

On the second tier index, DCC (LSE: DCC.L – news) rose strongly after analysts said the the impact of the weather wasn’t as bad as had been feared. The group said both its operating profit and adjusted earnings per share for the year ending March 31st will be between 7-10% above the previous year, compared to the approximate 15% and 13% previously forecast. Despite this, Investec (LSE: INVP.L – news) analysts reiterated their ‘add’ rating on the stock, while broker Jefferies restated a ‘buy’.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Hammerson (HMSO) 560.50p +3.13%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS (LSE: RBS.L – news) ) 351.80p +2.69%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,357.00p +2.48%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 98.20p +2.45%
IMI (IMI) 1,530.00p +2.43%
British Land Co (BLND) 680.00p +2.33%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 2,047.00p +2.20%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,415.00p +2.17%
Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L – news) (AAL) 1,552.00p +2.14%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 3,108.50p +2.02%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,006.00p -1.85%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 394.00p -1.84%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 444.20p -0.49%
Mondi (Frankfurt: KYC.F – news) (MNDI) 1,023.00p -0.49%
SSE (Berlin: SCT.BE – news) (SSE (LSE: SSE.L – news) ) 1,383.00p -0.43%
Pearson (Dusseldorf: PES.DU – news) (PSON) 1,117.00p -0.18%
Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE.L – news) (TATE) 656.50p -0.15%
Meggitt (Frankfurt: MGI.F – news) (MGGT) 518.00p -0.10%
Johnson Matthey (LSE: JMAT.L – news) (JMAT) 3,300.00p -0.09%
William Hill (Other OTC: WIMHF – news) (WMH) 346.90p -0.06%

FTSE 250 – Risers
DCC (Dusseldorf: DCC.DU – news) (DCC) 2,918.00p +4.78%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,268.00p +4.71%
Rank Group (RNK) 151.00p +4.28%
Polymetal International (POLY) 684.00p +4.03%
Computacenter (CCC) 683.00p +3.96%
Telecom Plus (LSE: TEP.L – news) (TEP) 1,879.00p +3.75%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 849.00p +3.54%
Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR.L – news) (ESSR) 68.15p +3.26%
Micro Focus International (LSE: MCRO.L – news) (MCRO) 782.50p +3.23%
AL Noor Hospitals Group (ANH) 867.00p +3.21%

FTSE 250 – Fallers
Daejan Holdings (LSE: DJAN.L – news) (DJAN) 4,876.00p -3.45%
Rotork (Frankfurt: RO4.F – news) (ROR) 2,590.00p -3.14%
JD Sports Fashion (LSE: JD.L – news) (JD.) 1,379.00p -1.99%
KCOM Group (LSE: KCOM.L – news) (KCOM) 98.70p -1.79%
Xaar (XAR) 1,055.00p -1.68%
BH Global Ltd. USD Shares (BHGU) 11.31 -1.31%
Kenmare Resources (LSE: KMR.L – news) (KMR) 16.70p -1.18%
IP Group (LSE: IPO.L – news) (IPO) 196.00p -1.11%
UK Commercial Property Trust (UKCM) 78.15p -1.08%
F&C Commercial Property Trust Ltd. (FCPT) 120.30p -1.07%

FTSE TechMARK – Risers
RM (RM (LSE: RM.L – news) .) 147.25p +9.28%
Dialight (DIA (Berlin: DI6.BE – news) ) 774.00p +4.74%
Vectura Group (LSE: VEC.L – news) (VEC) 163.00p +4.15%
Sarossa Capital (Other OTC: AIOAF – news) (SRC) 1.48p +3.50%
Oxford Biomedica (LSE: OXB.L – news) (OXB) 3.17p +2.42%
Skyepharma (Frankfurt: SK8C.F – news) (SKP) 181.50p +1.68%
Promethean World (LSE: PRW.L – news) (PRW) 33.00p +1.54%
CML Microsystems (LSE: CML.L – news) (CML) 615.00p +1.23%
Consort Medical (Other OTC: CSRMY – news) (CSRT) 1,031.00p +0.59%
SDL (SDL (LSE: SDL.L – news) ) 385.00p +0.52%

FTSE TechMARK – Fallers
Kofax Limited (NasdaqGS: KFX – news) (DI (KSE: 003160.KS – news) ) (KFX) 473.75p -2.32%
Phoenix IT Group (PNX) 117.00p -2.30%
Torotrak (Frankfurt: TQ5.F – news) (TRK) 21.50p -2.27%
DRS Data & Research Services (LSE: DRS.L – news) (DRS (Other OTC: DRSX – news) ) 23.50p -2.08%
Wolfson Microelectronics (LSE: WLF.L – news) (WLF) 128.50p -1.91%
Ricardo (RCDO) 721.00p -1.90%
Optos (OPTS) 199.75p -1.60%
Innovation Group (Other OTC: INVGF – news) (TIG) 33.25p -1.48%
XP Power Ltd (LSE: XPP.L – news) . (DI) (XPP) 1,750.00p -1.41%
NCC Group (LSE: NCC.L – news) (NCC (Other OTC: NCCBF – news) ) 202.75p -1.22%