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FTSE nears record high after jolt from US jobs

FTSE nears record high after jolt from US jobs

Update: The FTSE 100 has closed just shy of a record high after strong US jobs figures sparked a rally in the dollar.

The UK blue-chip index closed 11 points higher at 7,542, just off its record all-time closing high of 7,548.

Having spent most of the day in the red, the index received a boost from better-than-expected figures from the job openings and labour turnover survey (Jolts).

A 6.2 million reading for June marked a record high, well above the 5.7 million investors had been anticipating and the similar reading for May.

'The Jolts report is further evidence the US jobs market is improving,' said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

'On Friday we saw the non-farm payroll figure exceed estimates, an upward revision to the June number, and unemployment ticked lower.'

The news sparked a rally in the dollar, with the pound dropping 0.5% against the greenback to $1.297. A weaker pound tends to boost the FTSE 100, whose members rely on overseas markets for around three-quarters of their earnings.

(9:54) China trade slowdown weighs

A slowdown in China trade has knocked mining shares, holding back the FTSE 100, which fell 13 two points to 7,519.

Slower-than-expected growth in imports and exports from the world's top metals consumer dented shares in miners, which gave back some of yesterday's gains sparked by a rally in metals prices.

Exports grew by 7.2% year-on-year in July, down from 11.3% in June and below the 11% investors had been expecting. Imports rose 11%, compared to 17.2% the previous month and the 18% growth that had been anticipated.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said that while slower import growth 'raises some concerns that domestic demand may be softening' the exports disappointment 'would appear to suggest that while global demand is still positive it may well not be as strong as we initially thought, which may be a concern further down the line if it suggests the start of a trend'.

Miners fell towards the bottom of the FTSE 100, with Antofagasta (ANTO) down 1.1% at 945.5p, BHP Billiton (BLT) dropping 9p to £13.87 and Rio Tinto (RIO) off 24p at £36.13.

The biggest faller on the FTSE 100 for a  was Paddy Power Betfair (PPB), down 5.2% at £71.60 after the bookmaker followed yesterday's news of boss Breon Corcoran's departure by reporting a 6% fall in revenues in the second quarter.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) was another heavy faller, down 4.6% at £42.09 after reporting a slowdown in revenue growth by room.

Revenues per room were up 1.5% in the three months to the end of June, compared with 2.7% growth in the previous quarter and 2.5% a year earlier.

But Steve Clayton, who holds £10.4 million-worth of the shares in his £250 million HL Select UK Shares fund, said the company was a 'reliable cash generator', adding that 'plenty of growth potential remains'.

'A little bit of profit taking in early trade is not that surprising to see, given the shares were already up around 20% so far in 2017,' he said.

Shares in Standard Life (SL) were meanwhile down 3.1% at 429.7p as the insurer reported a £5.6 billion outflow from its flagship fund, Global Absolute Return Strategies.

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