FTSE higher on strong results, easing debt fears

* FTSE 100 up 0.6 pct

* Strong results lift Unilever, BSkyB

* Worries over euro zone debt crisis ease

By Simon Falush

LONDON, April 29 (BestGrowthStock) – Strong corporate results and a
rally by banks hauled Britain’s top share index into positive
territory early on Thursday as investor nervousness on the Greek
dent crisis eased, outweighing weakness from energy stocks.

By 0835 GMT, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was up 31.71 points, or
0.6 percent higher at 5,618.32, having fallen 0.3 percent on
Wednesday after a 2.6 percent tumble on Tuesday.

Senior European officials gave assurances that they were
serious about helping Greece find a way out of its escalating
debt crisis, helping calm investors who had been further rattled
on Wednesday after Standard & Poor’s Cut Spain’s credit rating.

Also providing support to markets, the U.S. Federal Reserve
gave an upbeat assessment of the world’s largest economy and
decided to keep interest rates near record lows. [.N]

“There is pain caused by the fiscal situation in Europe, but
the underlying economic situation is firming up and if the
newsflow is not absolutely negative, it will allow investors to
focus on the underlying trends,” said Gilles Moec, senior
European economist at Deutsche Bank.

Energy firms were the main drag on the index with BP (BP.L: )
down 2 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 1.1 percent as its
first-quarter results beat forecasts, with underlying profits up
by 13 percent, and all divisions outperforming expectations.

Among a raft of other, mostly positive, company results,
Unilever (ULVR.L: ) stood out, gaining 3.3 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 Q1 sales. [ID:nLDE63R0JP]

Pay TV firm BSkyB (BSY.L: ) also shone, adding 3.2 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]

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

Barclays (BARC.L: ), HSBC (HSBA.L: ) and Standard Chartered
added 0.4 to 0.6 percent. But part state-owned Royal Bank of
Scotland (RBS.L: ) and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) fell 1.1 and
1.5 percent respectively.

Elsewhere among financials, insurer Standard Life was also a
feature on the blue chip leader board, up 1.8 percent after it
said its sales rose 30 percent in the first three months of the
year, well above analyst forecasts, prompting Panmure Gordon to
raise its rating to “buy”.

Drinks producer Diageo (DGE.L: ) was also among the top FTSE
100 gainers, up 2.5 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.

Stock Market Report

(Reporting by Simon Falush; Editing by Hans Peters)

FTSE higher on strong results, easing debt fears