Banks, commods lead FTSE up 0.5 pct, US data eyed

* Miners, oil strength as commodities rebound

* Banks extend recent gains; other financial higher

* U.S. non-farm payroll data due at 1330 GMT

* WPP results at low end of forecasts; drugmakers weigh

By David Brett

LONDON, March 5 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index opened
0.5 percent higher on Friday, as commodity and banking stocks
led a broad-based rally ahead of U.S. non-farm payroll data,
though WPP (WPP.L: ) results disappointed.

By 0844 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) rose 28.43 points to
5,555.59, echoing moves in the U.S. and Asia overnight, and
having closed 0.1 percent lower on Thursday.

U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due to be released at 1330 GMT,
will be the key focus of the day, with a Reuters poll predicting
a 50,000 decrease in the number of jobs.

“A better than expected number could be the catalyst that
will see the FTSE finally test that key upside level at 5,600,”
said James Hughes, market analyst at CMC Markets.

“It has been made clear on a number of occasions that the
employment picture must show significant signs of improvement
before we can say that the economic recovery has finally
happened.”

Miners rallied following a pause for breath in the previous
session, underpinned by rebounding metal prices, which slipped
on Thursday.

Fresnillo (FRES.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ), Lonmin (LMI.L: ), BHP
Billiton (BLT.L: ) and Xstrata (XTA.L: ) added between 1.5 percent
and 2.3 percent.

Swiss-based commodity trader Glencore [GLEN.UL] said it was
buying back its prized Prodeco coal operations in Colombia from
mining group Xstrata. [ID:nLDE6240AK]

Energy stocks were higher, again boucning back from losses,
helped by the rising price of crude (CLc1: ), which added 0.6
percent to around $81 a barrel. Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ), BP
(BP.L: ), and BG Group (BG.L: ) gained 0.1 to 0.2 percent.

Cairn Energy (CNE.L: ) added 1.7 percent after Numis raised
its recommendation on the oil explorer, while peer Tullow
(TLW.L: ) rose 1 percent as Numis raised its target price.

Banks extended their recent rally. Barclays (BARC.L: ), Lloyds
Banking Group (LLOY.L: ), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ), HSBC
(HSBA.L: ) and Standard Chartered added 0.7 to 3.1 percent.

Schroders (SDR.L: ) was again the top blue chip performer, up
3.6 percent, extending the previous day’s gains following upbeat
results.

Life Insurers were on the front foot following recent dips
after Prudential (PRU.L: ) announced a rights issue on Monday to
fund its takeover of AIG Asia.

Prudential, Aviva (AV.L: ), which posted results on Thursday,
and Standard Life (SL.L: ) rose 0.6 to 1.7 percent. Peer
Resolution (RSL.L: ), which faces potential FTSE 100 relegation,
fell 0.2 percent. [ID:nLDE623237]

WPP FALLS

WPP Group (WPP.L: ) was one of the top FTSE fallers, down 1.2
percent after the largest advertising group in the world
reiterated its view that 2010 like-for-like revenues would be
flat after it reported 2009 revenues down 8.1 percent, towards
the lower end of forecasts. [ID:nLDE6230U5]

Selected defensive issues were the main fallers as risk
appetite returned.

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) dropped 0.7 percent after
it announced late on Thursday the recall of poligrip in Japan
and as UBS cuts its target price.

Peers AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ) and Shire (SHP.L: ) fell 0.1 and 0.3
percent respectively.

Ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls, investors will look at UK
PPI data scheduled for release at 0930 GMT.

Stock Market Basics

(Editing by Hans Peters)

Banks, commods lead FTSE up 0.5 pct, US data eyed