FTSE 100 CLOSE: M&S afternoon rally leaves stocks ahead

The FTSE 100 fell as low as 5,500 earlier in the afternoon but then picked up to end the day 31.57 points ahead at 5,575.52.

The market’s sell-off was halted by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment for May climbing to 77.8 points, up from 76.4 in the previous month and the highest level seen since January 2008.

Marks & Spencer made the strongest gain of the session. The high street retailer was up 3.48% to 360p after it announced it will launch an own-label Simply M&S range to compete with rivals in the value food space. (article continues below)

European real estate company Hammerson rose 3.19% to 429.8p while utility firm Severn Trent gained 3.11% to 1,693p. Biopharmaceutical firm Shire advanced 2.91% to 2,048p and property investor British Land was up 2.87% to 506p.

Resources company and financials were the biggest fallers. Eurasian Natural Resources, Xstrata, Barclays, Evraz and Glencore showed the largest drops of the day.