StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 gained momentum despite a stronger pound following positive UK wage data, closing 0.4% higher at 7,059.

Brent crude oil dipped 0.2% to $80.61 per barrel.

Upbeat trading updates from US banks helped the Dow Jones climb 1.5% to 25,623 at around 4:45pm UK time. The Nasdaq added 1.9% and the S&P 500 jumped 1.4%.

Back in the UK, JD Sports Fashion shed 5.5% to 395.6p on chief executive officer Brian Small's decision to step down from the company.

Shares in theme park operator Merlin Entertainments dropped 8% at 340p as investors worried about cost pressures and stalled growth at its Legoland theme parks.

UK housebuilder Bellway launched a cost cutting programme to drive margins higher after warning about pressure on margins. Investors overlooked this, focusing on growth in sales and pre-tax profit, pushing the shares 2.8% higher to £29.07.

Engineering firm Meggitt hiked its organic sales growth forecasts to between 7% and 8% amid strong demand for its products, prompting investors to mark the stock 7% higher to 529.4p.

Online grocer Ocado accelerated 5.5% to 833.4p after receiving positive coverage from broker Peel Hunt following a site visit.

Cigarette seller British American Tobacco slashed its annual sales target for next generation products, blaming a flat market in Japan and a product recall in the US. The stock drifted 4.6% lower to £31.76.

Power producer Drax sparked 5.4% to 386p after agreeing to buy Scottish Power's portfolio of pumped storage, hydro and gas-fired power generation assets for £702m.


Story provided by StockMarketWire.com