FTSE gains on Fed, easing debt fears, results

* FTSE 100 up 0.7 pct; Fed rate decision welcomed

* Strong results lift BSkyB, Unilever, AstraZeneca

* Worries over euro zone debt crisis ease

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, April 29 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top share index rose
on Thursday as investors welcomed a pledge by the U.S. Federal
Reserve to keep rates low and as nervousness about the euro zone
debt crisis eased, with strong corporate results also helping.

By 1117 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 39.46 points, or
0.7 percent, at 5,626.07, rebounding after a 0.3 percent decline
the previous session, and Tuesday’s 2.6 percent tumble.

Pay TV firm BSkyB (BSY.L: ) rose 5 percent as its results
showed huge demand for high definition services which enabled it
to add 62,000 net new customers in the third quarter of the year
and increase user loyalty. [ID:nLDE63S04A]

Unilever (ULVR.L: ) also shone, adding 3.6 percent after the
consumer goods giant’s drive to increase volume growth paid off
for the fourth quarter in a row as it beat forecasts with a rise
in underlying sales in early 2010. [ID:nLDE63R0JP]

Drinks producer Diageo (DGE.L: ) climbed 2.4 percent as French
peer Pernod Ricard (PERP.PA: ) lifted its full-year profit target
and posted third-quarter sales above forecasts, with key markets
such as the United States, Russia, as well as duty free
improving.

ECB Governing Council member Axel Weber said Thursday the
impact of any Greek debt default on other states would be
“incalculable” and urged quick approval of an aid package to
prevent market upheaval and contagion to other states.
[ID:nLDE63S0BL]

And the Fed on Wednesday gave an upbeat assessment of the
world’s largest economy and decided to keep interest rates near
record lows. [.N]

“If the Fed had said, look, we’re going to raise interest
rates, the market would be down considerably today,” said Mike
Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin.

“Things are moving in the right direction as far as the euro
zone is concerned, so the crisis aspect of Greece’s public debt
problem I think will find a resolution fairly quickly… and
then (there’s) the corporate results — they just reflect the
improving momentum in the global economy.”

Banks were mostly higher as some reassurance on the outlook
for euro zone debt improved sentiment towards the sector.

Barclays (BARC.L: ), Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) and HSBC
(HSBA.L: ) rose 0.3-0.7 percent, though Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS.L: ) and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) shed 0.4 and 1.2
percent.

Elsewhere among financials, insurer Standard Life (SL.L: ) put
on 3.3 percent after it beat forecasts with a 30 percent jump in
first-quarter sales, prompting Panmure Gordon to upgrade the
stock to “buy” from “hold”.

DRUGMAKERS WANTED

AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ) climbed 2.2 percent after it smashed
forecasts with a 28 percent rise in first-quarter earnings per
share, helped by growing sales of cholesterol drug Crestor and a
lower tax rate. [ID:nLDE63Q25W]

And peer Shire (SHP.L: ) added 0.6 percent after posting
better than expected first-quarter earnings as new drugs
continued to offset loss of exclusivity for its blockbuster ADHD
medicine Adderall XR.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ), meanwhile, rose 0.7 percent.

Energy firms were the main drag on the index with BP (BP.L: )
down 1.4 percent as the U.S. Coast Guard said on Wednesday that
five times as much oil as previously estimated was leaking from
a well beneath the site of a deadly drilling rig explosion.

Peer Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) fell 0.7 percent having been
boosted by strong Q1 results on Wednesday.

BG Group (BG.L: ), however, gained 2.3 percent after it
delivered improved quarterly output and underlying profits, even
though weak gas prices took a toll on its bottom line.

Penny Stocks

(Editing by Mike Nesbit)

FTSE gains on Fed, easing debt fears, results