Business

FTSE 100 lifted by Prudential as profits rise

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(Close): Prudential helped to lift the FTSE 100 after the insurance giant reported better-than-expected profits.

Pre-tax operating profits at Prudential rose 22% to £4bn, beating forecasts, and the firm said it would also pay a special dividend of 10p per share.

Prudential's shares closed 2.9% higher at £13.65, making it the top riser on the FTSE 100.

The FTSE index closed 0.3%, or 20.8 points, higher at 6,146.3.

Shares in fashion house Burberry fell 6.7%, making it the biggest faller, after HSBC cut its rating on the stock to "hold" from "buy".

The fall reversed gains seen on Tuesday that were triggered by speculation that Burberry could be a takeover target.

On the FTSE 250, shares in The Restaurant Group - which owns chains such as Frankie & Benny's, Chiquito and Coast to Coast - dived 22.6% after warning that the "more challenging trading conditions" it had seen at the end of last year were expected to continue during 2016.

The comments overshadowed the company's 11% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £86.8m.

Also on the FTSE 250, shares in G4S fell by 12.1% after its annual profits dropped by 40% to £78m, with the outsourcing firm taking a £65m charge to cover possible losses on government contracts.

On the currency markets, the pound was almost flat against the dollar at $1.4224, and largely unmoved against the euro at €1.2906 after an earlier rise.

Sterling was given a slight boost by the latest ONS manufacturing figures that showed output rose by 0.7% in January - the first rise for four months and stronger than forecast.

The increase helped the wider measure of industrial production to increase by 0.3%.