Commods and banks lead FTSE higher

By David Brett

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Banks and commodity-linked stocks pushed Britain’s top share index higher on Tuesday, with risk appetite returning among investors as euro zone debt fears ebbed, and Man Group recouping the previous session’s losses.

The FTSE 100 ended up 44.80 points, or 0.9 percent, at 5,307.34, but after retreating from an earlier session high of 5,341.41.

“Any move higher at the moment will be tough to sustain as the market waits nervously for yet more bad news out of Europe,” Jimmy Yates, head of equities at CMC Markets.

“We will likely see any gains short lived as traders take profit on small rallies.”

The index is 9 percent off its 2010 high, which it hit in mid-April, and down 1.9 percent on the year as investors have fretted over euro zone debt contagion and its potential to stunt growth.

Banks, which have been hit over their possible exposure to Europe’s debt problems, were big gainers — providing a measure of the market’s enthusiasm for risk.

Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group rose 0.2 to 1.5 percent.

Investor indecision was summed up as hedge-fund firm Man Group gained more than 9 percent, recovering all of Monday’s sharp falls as the market mulled over its purchase of U.S. rival GLG Partners.

ICAP rose 5 percent after Panmure Gordon upgraded its recommendation and estimates on the world’s biggest interdealer broker ahead of full-year results due on Wednesday.

Real estate firm Land Securities, energy company Scottish & Southern Energy, credit checking agency Experian and mid-cap pubs group Mitchells & Butlers rose 1.2 to 3.1 percent ahead of respective results and trading updates due on Wednesday.

COMMODITIES GAIN

Spurred by improved sentiment investors picked up commodity-linked stocks on the cheap, helped by firmer commodity prices which recovered from steep falls on Monday.

Miners Rio Tinto, Xstrata, Kazakhmys and BHP Billiton gained 1.6 to 2.7 percent.

The sector has been hit by potential China monetary tightening and euro zone debt issues and is almost 18 percent off 2010 highs hit in late March.

Energy firms BG Group, Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group rose 0.8-1.1 percent.

Sentiment, which had been buoyed early in the session as EU finance ministers met in Brussels to fine tune Europe’s rescue package, improved further as Greece received loan from the European Union and can now repay its immediate debt.

Adding to that, economic data in the euro zone and the United States suggested inflation was under control despite historically low interest rates.

Euro zone consumer prices rose 1.4 percent year-on-year in March, though the overall gain fell short of market expectations and price growth is seen subdued this year.

In the U.S., producer prices eased in April and costs excluding food and energy remained contained, suggesting inflation is not a near-term concern for officials at the Federal Reserve.

U.S. housing starts rose more than expected in April to touch their highest level since October 2008.

British Land climbed 4.3 percent after the property company posted its first full-year mark-up in its portfolio since the UK property bubble burst three years ago.

On the downside, Prudential, which unveiled a record $21 billion cash call on Monday, fell 0.8 percent.

(Editing by Hans Peters)

Commods and banks lead FTSE higher