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FTSE 100 closes 2.3% up after Tesco shares surge



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(Close): Tesco shares led London's main index higher on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 ending up 2.34% at 6,569.96.

The supermarket reported a better-than-expected trading update, with Christmas sales down just 0.3%. That helped boost Tesco shares by 14.97%.

Marks and Spencer, down 3.52%, was the worst performer after a disappointing trading update.

Expectations that the European Central Bank may soon start a eurozone stimulus programme also boosted markets.

Tesco's gains lifted shares in other supermarkets with Sainsbury's up 9.9% and Morrisons rising 7.76%.

"This is a positive statement in many respects," said HSBC analyst David McCarthy.

"It shows sales momentum is turning, that Dave Lewis will make bold decisions on all areas of the business, that the balance sheet is being strengthened, that management has been strengthened and that there are no sacred cows with the closure of the Cheshunt head office," he said.

Outside the top flight, shares in Halfords fell 8.48% after Tesco announced the bike chain's boss would become its new UK chief executive. Matt Davies has a reputation for successfully turning companies around.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.01% against the dollar to $1.5112, and rose by 0.22% against the euro to €1.2792.

Globally, stock markets and the dollar were encouraged by comments from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

Officials from the central bank said a rate rise before April was "unlikely".