FTSE helped up by BP; miners weigh

* FTSE 100 index gains 0.1 pct

* BP top riser on spill containment hopes, bid talk

* Miners fall; China copper imports data disappoints

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, July 12 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top shares rose on
Monday, slightly extending last week’s strong gains, as an
advance from BP (BP.L: ) offset a retreat from miners, ahead of
the U.S. Q2 reporting season and a batch of key economic data.

By 1103 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 3.90 points, or 0.1
percent, at 5,136.84.

“All very quiet. I think after last week’s gains, there’s
good reason for people to sit on their hands for a while,” said
Jim Wood-Smith, head of research at Williams de Broe.

The index rose 0.5 percent on Friday, taking its winning
streak into a fourth straight day and notching up weekly gains
of 6.1 percent — its biggest weekly percentage rise in a year.

“We’ve got some very important (economic data) to be
released during the course of the week, and we’ve got the start
of the U.S. second-quarter reporting season this evening, so I
think markets are just doing a little bit of ‘wait and see’.”

He said investors were particularly looking ahead to Chinese
data, with second quarter GDP and the latest monthly inflation,
industrial production and retail sales numbers all due for
release on Thursday.

Inflation numbers from the UK, Europe and the United States,
released during the course of the week will also attract
attention.

Embattled oil major BP was the top performer on the UK blue-
chip index on Monday, adding 7 percent, after it expressed
optimism on a new oil containment system, and on reports it is
looking to sell off some of its assets.

BP said on Sunday it is making progress on a new system to
capture almost all the oil spewing from its blown-out well in
the Gulf of Mexico and a relief well could finally plug the leak
by early to mid-August. [ID:nN11145426]

BP is in talks with U.S. oil and gas firm Apache Corp
(APA.N: ) and other companies over potential asset sales, a source
familiar with the situation said on Sunday, as it weighs how to
pay costs related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
[ID:nN11156383]

The Daily Telegraph said on Monday that BP is preparing to
unveil a $40 billion defence strategy, with U.S. firms Exxon
Mobil (XOM.N: ) and Chevron (CVX.N: ) said to be seeking approval
from Washington to launch a bid.

“There are ongoing rumours about either it being able to
sell off some of its assets to cover some of the liabilities
which are going to come out of the spill, or indeed there are
still very vague rumours or speculation around a full takeover,”
said Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Elsewhere, Cobham (COB.L: ) added 1.3 percent, boosted by a
read-across from French peer Zodiac Aerospace (ZODC.PA: ) which
rebuffed a preliminary takeover approach from state-controlled
aero engine maker Safran (SAF.PA: ). [ID:nLDE66B0DO]

Bullish broker sentiment also underpinned Cobham’s rise,
with BofA Merrill Lynch upgrading its rating on the stock to
“buy” from “neutral”, with an unchanged 270 pence price target,
in a review of the European Aerospace & Defence sector.

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall
Street on Monday as investors take a breather after the market
posted its best weekly gains in a year and ahead of the start of
the earnings season, to be kicked off by Alcoa (AA.L: ) after the
U.S. closing bell today.

MINERS RETREAT

Mining stocks were out of favour, falling back after a
strong advance in the previous session, after the world’s top
metals consumer China reported a drop in copper imports for the
third straight month in June, casting shadows on the demand
outlook. [ID:nTOE669009] [ID:nTOE66900C]

Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) and Vedanta Resources
(VED.L: ) were the worst off, shedding 1.5 percent to 2.3 percent.

Banks, which also advanced on Friday, were mixed. Lloyds
Banking Group (LLOY.L: ), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) and
Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) fell 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent,
while HSBC (HSBA.L: ) rose 0.2 percent.

On the domestic macro front, Britain’s economy grew at the
same pace as previously estimated in the first three months of
this year, but the recession that preceded it was deeper than
previously thought, the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
said.

The ONS left first-quarter GDP growth unrevised at 0.3
percent on the quarter, for an annual decline of 0.2 percent, in
line with economists’ forecasts. [ID:nAHL9IE644]
(Editing by Hans Peters)

FTSE helped up by BP; miners weigh