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Thur close: Greece needing ‘intervention’

Gains in London were trimmed by the newsflow from Greece where there was talk of a need for high level intervention to strike a deal.

The FTSE 100 closed up 7.59 points (+0.11%) at 7,040.92, countering falls in Europe as
Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said senior political figures will have to step in.

Mixed messages continue to emanate from Athens with some Greek officials suggesting a deal was close, while creditors such as IMF chief Christine Lagarde saying”there is still a lot of work to do”.

Markets were largely unmoved by UK GDP figures showing expansion by just 0.3% in the first quarter. This was in line with the initial estimate but below the 0.4% growth expected by analysts and the 0.6% increase seen the preceding quarter.

High street sports retailer Sports Direct rose sharply after raising its guidance for annual profits due to “continued and prudent depreciation policy and lower interest charges”.

B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher was also popular after making a “solid” start to the year under new French chief executive Véronique Laury, with like-for-like sales up 0.8% in the first quarter.

Insurance group Direct Line was on the rise after JPMorgan Cazenove upgraded the stock from ‘neutral’ to ‘overweight’, saying the risk-reward balance has improved due to an anticipated improvement in UK motor pricing.

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