BP, banks fuel FTSE’s 7th straight day of gains

By David Brett

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index rose for the seventh straight day on Thursday, led by BP (BP.L: ) after its compensation deal with the White House, but gains were held in check by weak U.S. jobs data hitting commodity-linked stocks.

The FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 15.97 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,253.89, to close at its highest since May 18 but off the session high of 5,293.76.

BP was the top performer among London’s blue chips, jumping 6.7 percent and adding almost 17 points to the index, after the oil major agreed to set up a $20 billion fund for oil spill-related damage claims and suspend its dividend.

But other energy and mining stocks waned along with commodities after U.S. jobs data cast doubt over the speed of the recovery of the world’s largest economy.

BG Group (BG.L: ) fell 1.9 percent while energy services firm Petrofac (PFC.L: ) dropped 2.6 percent.

Miners Fresnillo (FRES.L: ) and Xstrata (XTA.L: ) were among the top FTSE 100 fallers, down 2.8 and 2.4 percent respectively.

“The jobs data was a blow for the commodities and BP flattered gains on the upside but the market’s had a pretty good week, so there’s some nice profits being banked before the investors rev up again for another push,” said Jimmy Yates, head of equities at CMC Markets.

Gold miner Randgold Resources (RRS.L: ) bucked the mining sector trend, rising 1.2 percent along with the gold price as investors sought comfort in the safe-haven metal.

Johnson Matthey (JMAT.L: ) also gained 2.4 percent, helped by Deutsche Bank which lifted its rating for the supplier of catalytic converters to “buy” from “hold.”

BANKING ON IT

Banks were on the front foot. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) and Barclays (BARC.L: ) took the second, third and fourth places on the FTSE 100 risers’ list, up 3.4, 2.8 and 2.6 percent respectively.

The sector found support following upbeat British retail sales data and a successful Spanish bond auction, which eased fears over the euro zone debt crisis.

UK finance minister George Osborne announced the biggest shake-up of the regulatory landscape in 13 years on Wednesday, saying he was to give the Bank of England ultimate control over financial supervision.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumer prices notched their largest decline in nearly 1-1/2 years in May, suggesting interest rates will remain ultra low to nurse the fragile economic recovery.

Elsewhere, Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L: ) climbed 1.4 percent after RBS upgraded its rating for the consumer products firm to “buy” from “hold,” citing the continued absence of generic competition for heroin substitute drug Suboxone and more favorable foreign exchange rates.

And a target price hike from Morgan Stanley helped Wolseley (WOS.L: ) up 0.9 percent, with the broker saying the building supplies group’s third-quarter update flagged better revenue trends.

Investing

(Editing by David Cowell)

BP, banks fuel FTSE’s 7th straight day of gains