London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares broke through 5,000 points on Wednesday for the first time in more than two and a half years amid strong company earnings and merger and acquisition news, analysts said. The FTSE 100 reached as high as 5,003 points in mid-afternoon trading -- the first time it had breached the psychological 5,000 points barrier since June 6, 2002. The rally brought the FTSE 100 index in sight of levels last seen before the collapse of the dot.com bubble and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
"In particular the hedge funds are really making sure this week that they have not got short (selling) positions and that is keeping the market bubbling along. It's also the realization that there are more acquisitions in the pipeline," said Barclays Stockbrokers' analyst Hilary Cook.
Some strong earnings reports on both sides of the Atlantic have helped also to lift the FTSE above 5,000 points, analysts said. In London, oil giants Shell and BP recently announced record annual profits, while banks could follow suit, starting with Barclays on Thursday, analysts said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005