FTSE higher led by banks, commods; earnings eyed

* FTSE up 0.8 percent; UK corporate earnings awaited

* Drugmakers rise; U.S. reform seen as not so costly

* Banks, commods up; Greece deal, U.S. data supports

By David Brett

LONDON, April 26 (BestGrowthStock) – Investor confidence remained
upbeat at midday on Monday as risk-sensitive banks and commodity
stocks led Britain’s top share index higher, ahead of a busy
week for UK corporate earnings data.

By 1109 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 44.78 points, or
0.8 percent at 5,768.43, extending a 1 pct rally on Friday, but
below Monday’s intra-day peak of 5,800.66.

Pharmaceutical stocks GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ), AstraZeneca
(AZN.L: ) and Shire (SHP.L: ) were among the biggest risers, up 0.2
to 2.1 percent, with GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca both due to
post first-quarter earnings later this week.

“The reason we are up today is because of expectations of
the biggest earnings week in the UK calendar on a quarterly
basis … This is the creme de la creme week,” David Buik,
senior partner at BGC Partners said.

Drugs companies also tracked gains made by their U.S. peers
on Friday after Merck (MRK.N: ) eased concerns about the impact of
healthcare reform, saying costs will be relatively low.

Banks extended gains made in the previous session after
Greece announced it activated a rescue package with the IMF and
Eurozone, and after strong U.S. home sales data painted a
brighter picture of the world’s biggest economy.

Barclays (BARC.L: ), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) and Lloyds
Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) climbed 2.8 to 4.7 percent.

Greece’s finance minister said on Sunday that aid from the
EU and IMF would arrive in time to avert what would be the euro
zone’s first sovereign debt default, although there were growing
signs that a 45 billion euros ($60 billion) rescue package would
have to be bigger. [ID:nLDE63O07E]

The continued recovery in the U.S. economy helped lift metal
and crude (CLc1: ) prices as investors saw the outlook for demand
improving, boosting commodity issues.

Miners Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ), Anglo American (AAL.L: ),
Antofagasta (ATNO.L: ) and Xstrata (XTA.L: ) rose 0.5 to 4.8
percent.

Energy stocks BG Group (BG.L: ), BP (BP.L: ) and Cairn Energy
(CNE.L: ) added 0.2 to 1.5 percent. BP and BG Group report
first-quarter numbers later this week.

ENGINEERS ENGAGED

Invensys (ISYS.L: ) was the top FTSE 100 riser, adding 4.6
percent as investors alighted on the engineering group following
some positive news from mid-cap peers Weir Group (WEIR.L: ) and
Cookson (CKSN.L: ), up 9.6 and 6.9 percent respectively.

Power protection firm Chloride (CHLD.L: ) was the top FTSE 250
(.FTMC: ) riser, however, 42.5 percent higher after U.S.
industrials group Emerson Electric (EMR.N: ) made an indicative
all-cash offer at 275 pence a share.

Back with blue chips, on the downside, equipment testing
company Intertek (ITRK.L: ) dropped 1.4 percent as it said it has
pulled out of talks to buy risk management firm Det Norske
Veritas’s systems certification unit. [ID:nLDE63P09P]

Britain’s dominant pay-TV group BSkyB (BSY.L: ) topped the
list of blue chip fallers, down 2 percent after Jeffries
downgraded its rating to “hold” ahead of its third-quarter
results, due on Thursday.

With no important UK or U.S. data released on Monday, the
macro focus remained on Wednesday’s interest rate decision from
the Federal Reserve.

Investment Advice

(Editing by Rupert Winchester)

FTSE higher led by banks, commods; earnings eyed