FTSE edges up on banks, miners; UK budget eyed

* FTSE up 0.3 percent; miners in demand

* Banks rise; BofA ML adds Lloyds to Europe 1 List

* TUI Travel rises; says holiday demand strong

* Eyes on budget at 1230 GMT

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, March 24 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index edged
higher on Wednesday, following gains in U.S. and Asian markets
overnight and helped by some gains in banks and miners ahead of
the UK finance minister’s annual budget statement.

By 0907 GMT the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 14.41 points, or 0.3
percent, at 5,688.04, after it rose 0.5 percent on Tuesday,
hitting a fresh 21-month closing high.

Please click on [ID:nLDE62M1HR] for an analysis on the
potential implications of the budget, which comes weeks before
the general election.

Banks were led higher by Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ), up
2.6 percent after BofA Merrill Lynch added the bank to its
Europe 1 List and boosted its price target.

Barclays (BARC.L: ), HSBC (HSBA.L: ), Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS.L: ) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) advanced 0.2 to 1.2
percent.

“We’re just going to see a reiteration of the pre-budget
report and the usual little hikes and tinkering with (taxes on)
alcohol and cigarettes,” said Angus Campbell, head of sales at
Capital Spreads.

Miners built on Tuesday’s sharp gains, with Anglo American
(AAL.L: ) a top FTSE 100 riser after JPMorgan upgrades its rating
on the firm to “overweight”, and after top diamond producer De
Beers, 45 percent owned by Anglo, said it has had a strong first
quarter with sales five times the level of last year.

Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC.L: ) put on 2.1 percent after
the Kazakh mining group said it was upbeat about 2010, as it
posted an expected 61 percent fall in annual earnings per share.

Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ), Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ) and Vedanta Resources
(VED.L: ) climbed 1.1 to 1.9 percent.

Strength was seen among energy stocks, which also rose the
previous session, with BP (BP.L: ) and BG Group (BG.L: ) up 0.9 and
0.6 percent respectively.

BG confirmed high productivity from well tests on Tupi
North-East in the Santos Basin, Brazil.

But Cairn Energy (CNE.L: ) fell 0.6 percent, falling back
after the Tuesday’s share price leap when it accompanied
full-year results with upbeat comments on its operations in
India and Greenland, with JPMorgan downgrading its rating to
“neutral”.

TUI FIRM

TUI Travel (TT.L: ) was a top blue chip riser, up 1.3 percent,
after the tour operator said demand for holidays has picked up
significantly, with most winter season programmes sold and
better bookings for summer than a year ago. [ID:nLDE62N0IX]

Peer Thomas Cook (TCG.L: ) rose 2.4 percent, aided too by a
target price hike from HSBC.

On the downside, Man Group (EMG.L: ) fell 1.5 percent after
the hedge fund firm posted lower profits and a further fall in
assets, bucking the trend in a recovering hedge fund industry as
clients continued to withdraw cash following poor returns from
its flagship AHL fund. [ID:nLDE62M173]

Aviva (AV.L: ), BSkyB (BSY.L: ) and Intercontinental Hotels
(IHG.L: ) fell after trading went ex-dividend.

Stock Market News

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

FTSE edges up on banks, miners; UK budget eyed