FTSE enjoys relief rally; Greece asks for aid

* FTSE rallies up 0.8 percent; Greece goes to EU/IMF

* Banks, miners, Vodafone rebound

* UK GDP fall short of expectations

By David Brett

LONDON, April 23 (BestGrowthStock) – A request by Greece to the EU and IMF for aid
to help with its debt crisis tempered investor uncertainty, boosting demand for
riskier bank and commodity stocks, lifting Britain’s top shares by midday on
Friday.

Equities were buoyant, even as GDP data showed Britain’s economy grew at a
slower pace than expected in the first three months of the year.

By 1110 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 45.93 points, or 0.8 percent at
5,711.20, having closed at its lowest level since March 22 on Thursday following
news that Greece’s deficit widened more than expected, which hit investor
sentiment.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou asked for the activation of a euro
zone and International Monetary Fund aid package on Friday aimed at pulling the
debt-laden country out of a debt crisis. [ID:nLDE63M0ZE]

“Greece finally turning to the EU and IMF has allowed investors to breath a
sigh of relief in the short-term,” said Jimmy Yates, head of equities at CMC
Markets.

Banks were the strongest performers, HSBC (HSBA.L: ), Barclays (BARC.L: ) and
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) rose 0.7 percent-2
percent.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) gained 2.7 percent after an upbeat note from
Barclays Capital.

The sector has been volatile with investors weighing uncertainty over
regulation and exposure after fraud charges were levelled against U.S. giant
Goldman Sachs (GS.N: ) and the Greece situation against recent upbeat broker
comment.

Commodity stocks enjoyed a relief rally, with miners Fresnillo (FRES.L: ),
Lonmin (LMI.L: ), ENRC (ENRC.L: ) and Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ) up 0.4 to 2.3 percent.

Energy stock BP (BP.L: ) and BG Group (BG.L: ) rose 0.3 and 0.4 percent
respectively.

Vodafone (VOD.L: ), the top weighted faller on Thursday, rebounded 0.6
percent.

Carnival (CCL.L: ) topped the UK blue-chip gainers list (.FTSE: ), up 4.7
percent, touching its highest since January 2007. Traders cited a spike in
demand for cruise holidays following the Icelandic volcano which closed airspace
over Europe.

Intercontinental (IHG.L: ), which has benefited from higher room rates at
airports as a result of the ash gained ground too, up 3 percent, with traders
also citing results from U.S. peer Marriott (MAR.N: ) on Thursday.

UK GDP MISSES

Britain’s economy grew at a slower pace than expected in the first three
months of this year as the harshest winter weather in 30 years hit hard,
official data showed. [ID:nLDE63M0SV]

“The data was short of expectations but there will be revisions to come and
at least there’s still some growth,” said CMC’s Yates.

Insurers were weaker, with Prudential (PRU.L: ) down 1.1 percent. Traders said
that hedge funds were shorting the stock ahead of a rights issue, whose terms
are to be published on May 5. Peer Aviva (AV.L: ) fell 0.8 percent.

Chipmaker ARM (ARM.L: ) fell 2.1 percent, topping the FTSE fallers list, with
analysts saying that the momentum built up on rumours of possible interest from
larger suitors and strong results from Apple (AAPL.O: ), was running out of steam.

Stock Investing

(Editing by Rupert Winchester)

FTSE enjoys relief rally; Greece asks for aid