Financials, miners boost FTSE 0.6 percent

By David Brett

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index rose 0.6 percent by midday Friday led by rallying financials and rebounding miners though trade was light as investors waited on the sidelines ahead of U.S. non-farm payroll data.

By 1152 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 30.82 points to 5,557.98, having closed 0.1 percent lower Thursday, although just 28 percent of the average 90 day volume had been traded.

Banks were the biggest risers. Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Standard Chartered, which reported bumper profits Thursday, added 1.8 to 3.2 percent.

“Volumes are a little lighter than normal this morning with many traders preferring to stand aside until the latest U.S. non-farm payrolls announcement is out of the way,” said Anthony Grech, market strategist at IG Index.

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.

Schroders was again the top blue chip performer, up 4.8 percent, extending the previous day’s gains following the fund firm’s upbeat results.

Life insurers were on the front foot, following recent dips after Prudential announced a $21 billion rights issue Monday to fund its takeover of AIG Asia.

Prudential, Aviva, which posted results Thursday, and Standard Life rose 1.1 to 1.9 percent. Peer Resolution, which faces possible FTSE 100 relegation, fell 0.4 percent.

Miners rallied after profit takers had stepped in the previous session, underpinned by rebounding metal prices.

Fresnillo, Rio Tinto, Lonmin, BHP Billiton and Xstrata added between 1.4 and 3.6 percent.

Swiss-based commodity trader Glencore said it was buying back its prized Prodeco coal operations in Colombia from Xstrata. Among energy stocks, Cairn Energy added 1.9 percent after Numis raised its recommendation on the oil explorer, while peer Tullow rose 0.6 percent as Numis raised its target price.

DEFENSIVE DECLINES

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

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline dropped 1.2 percent after UBS cut its price target and highlighted potential liabilities from diabetes drug Avendia. Utilities, Centrica and United Utilities fell 1.5 and 1.7 percent, respectively, while oil and gas services firm Petrofac extended Thursday’s falls, down 2.9 percent.

Peers AstraZeneca and Shire fell 0.3 and 0.2 percent, respectively.

WPP Group, the largest advertising group in the world, was one of the top FTSE fallers, down 0.6 percent. It reiterated its view that 2010 like-for-like revenues would be flat after reporting 2009 revenues down 8.1 percent, toward the lower end of forecasts.

British factory gate inflation picked up to a 14-month high in February but manufacturers’ input price inflation eased more than expected and for the first time since last July.

Stock Market Today

(Editing by Karen Foster)

Financials, miners boost FTSE 0.6 percent