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Equities were well and truly offside for the first half of the day, but some positive signs from the US labour market showed that the Federal Reserve’s stimulus package is working. Economists were expecting the number of people claiming unemployment benefit to increase but it actually fell by 12,000. This provided traders with a reason to buy back into the equity market.
In London the banking sector finished broadly unchanged, except for RBS which fell lower due to the announcement that Stephen Hester will be stepping down. Mr Hester took the helm at the height of the credit crisis and guided the bailed-out bank away from the brink of collapse. Since the announcement the stock has lost 3%.
In the US the Dow is up 40 points at 15,035, as the better-than-estimated jobless claims figures from the US helped the market find positive ground. Chemical maker Dupont lowered its guidance-for-operating profit for the year as the poor weather in Europe and North America hit its agricultural business. The share price is down 0.6%.