FTSE snaps 3-day losing streak on U.S. jobs hopes

By David Brett

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top shares snapped a three-session losing streak on Thursday as hopes of strong jobs data from the U.S. spurred sentiment, sending investors bargain hunting in commodity-linked stocks and banks.

The FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) ended up 59.86 points, or 1.2 percent, at 5,211.18, closing at a two-week high but falling back from an intra-day high of 5,262.50.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he believed that the May employment report, due on Friday, would show strong growth in U.S. payrolls.

Weekly U.S. jobs data out on Thursday appeared to back up Obama’s upbeat comment. The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week, while private employers added jobs in May, further evidence the labor market was improving.

However, a slowdown in new orders received by U.S. factories from March’s surprisingly robust gain convinced investors to lock in some early profits.

“It’s a very volatile situation we are in at the moment and when you have a market which is not unfairly valued and selling off, it tends to attract investors back in,” Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank said.

The upbeat sentiment drew punters in off the sidelines, attracting them to stocks which have been hit over the past few days.

Energy stocks were top performers. BP (BP.L: ) rose 0.5 percent but fell away from session highs as the oil major’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster weighed on the stock’s sentiment.

Crude added 0.7 percent, while BG Group (BG.L: ) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) gained 1.6 and 1.5 percent respectively. Oil services firm Petrofac (PFC.L: ) was the top riser, up 5.2 percent.

Miners, a barometer for the market’s appetite for risk, were also big risers.

Johnson Matthey (JMAT.L: ), the world’s largest supplier of catalytic converters, rose 1 percent as it said it expects to make good progress in the first half of 2010/11 after posting a 5 percent dip in annual underlying pretax profit.

Banks, another bellwether of investors’ attitude to risk, performed well with Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) up 2.5 percent.

ARM GRABBED

Electronic chip designer ARM (ARM.L: ) added 5 percent after it teamed up with five of its major partners to boost the use of free Linux software on cellphones, challenging Nokia’s (NOK1V.HE: ) Symbian and Microsoft (MSTF.O: ).

Kingfisher (KGF.L: ) climbed 2.6 percent after the home improvements retailer posted a 15 percent rise in first-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) as cost savings and reduced losses in China offset a fall in underlying sales due to poor spring weather.

Advertising firm WPP (WPP.L: ) posted solid gains, adding 3.5 percent, bolstered by a UBS upgrade to “buy.”

Stock Market Report

(Editing by David Cowell)

FTSE snaps 3-day losing streak on U.S. jobs hopes