* FTSE 100 closes up 0.7 pct at 6,873.58 points
* Index had earlier hit new 2014 peak of 6,898.62 points
* Stock markets buoyed by signs of Ukraine peace moves
* Ashtead rises after lifting full-year guidance
* FTSE yet to get past 6,900 point mark
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Sept 3 Britain's top equity index
touched its highest level in more than 14 years on Wednesday as
signs that Ukraine and Russia were working to end the conflict
in eastern Ukraine lifted global stock markets.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index briefly hit 6,898.62
points, its highest level since early 2000, after Ukrainian
President Petro Poroshenko's press office said a "permanent
ceasefire" had been agreed with Russia.
The FTSE edged back when the Kremlin later denied Russian
President Vladimir Putin had agreed a truce with Poroshenko,
saying Russia was not a party to the conflict, but said both
leaders had agreed on steps towards peace.
But the index nevertheless closed up by 0.7 percent, or
44.41 points, at 6,873.58 points.
"With Russia, things are never black and white. There are
some questions in the background about how solid this ceasefire
actually is. But if a ceasefire can hold and is confirmed, then
we could see a nice move higher," said Dafydd Davies, partner at
Charles Hanover Investments.
Industrial equipment hire company Ashtead was the
best-performing FTSE 100 stock in percentage terms, rising 3.6
percent after the company raised its full-year earnings
However, financial advisory company Hargreaves Lansdown
missed out on the broader market rally, falling 5.8
percent after its profit growth slightly missed market forecasts
and it failed to reassure investors about the impact of new
The UK stock market rally was also helped by new signs of
economic growth in Britain, with data showing that Britain's
services industry expanded last month at the fastest pace in
nearly a year.
The backdrop of Britain's economic recovery has led many
traders to expect the FTSE 100 to hit a record high of 7,000
points later this year.
The FTSE has also been resilient in the face of uncertainty
over Scotland's vote later this month over whether or not to
stay in the United Kingdom.
While uncertainty over the Scotland vote has hit the
sterling currency, it has so far had relatively little
impact on the FTSE, whose companies are often more exposed to
the global economy than the domestic UK one.
However, the FTSE has not yet breached the 6,900 point level
- seen as a key hurdle to cross before it can then move on to
challenge record highs.
Both Davies and Beaufort Securities' sales trader Basil
Petrides said they would trade cautiously in the near term and
look to sell positions for a profit when the market rose.
"I'd sell into rallies," said Petrides.
(Additional reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Susan Fenton
and Andrew Heavens)