Rallying banks, commods haul FTSE 0.7 percent higher

By Jon Hopkins

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s top shares gained 0.7 percent in early trade on Friday, bouncing back after sharp falls in the previous session, led by a rally from banks, oils, and mining issues, as investors await U.S. GDP data.

By 3:52 a.m. EST, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) index was up 35.90 points at 5,181.64 having closed 1.4 percent lower on Thursday at its lowest level since early November 6, weighed down by mounting concerns about the pace of global recovery.

“The market pendulum has swung back to positive after the recent sell-off, but with uncertainties remaining over the strength of the global recovery, any disappointment from the U.S. GDP data could quickly be punished,” said Mic Mills, senior trader at ETX Capital.

Banks led the FTSE 100 recovery after recent falls, with Barclays (BARC.L: ) a top blue chip riser, up 2.7 percent, while HSBC (HSBA.L: ), Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) added 0.5 to 1.4 percent.

But Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) missed out on the rally, slipping 0.2 percent. A Philadelphia-area real estate developer has sued RBS’s Citizens Bank unit, claiming the bank had jeopardized a $700 million project to redevelop a steel-plant site on financing commitments.

Energy issues were supported by a steadying of the crude price just below $78 a barrel, with BG Group (BG.L: ), BP (BP.L: ), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) and Tullow Oil (TLW.L: ) gaining 0.5 to 1.3 percent.

Similarly, recently under pressure mining issues rallied with steadier metal prices, helped as well by a positive sector review from Goldman Sachs, which raised target prices across the sector.

Gold miner Randgold Resources (RRS.L: ) was the best off, up 2.3 percent, while Antofagasta (ANTO.L: ), Xstrata (XTA.L: ), BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) and Lonmin (LMI.L: ) were up 0.7 to 2.0 percent.

Among the individual gainers, International Power (IPR.L: ) added 2.5 percent as rumors of corporate activity surrounding the group failed to die down. The power generator recently held abortive talks with France’s GDF Suez (GSZ.PA: ) on a possible asset tie-up.

There were few blue chip fallers early on, but drug issues were a drag led by AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ), off 0.4 percent as brokers cut target prices for the firm following Thursday’s full year results.

Peer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) shed 0.2 percent.

BAE Systems (BAES.L: ) was the biggest FTSE 100 faller, down 0.8 percent on uncertainties about the looming U.S. defense budget.

U.S. GDP EYED

A Reuters survey predicted that U.S. GDP expanded at a 4.6 percent annual rate, up from 2.2 percent in the third quarter.

If the number, due at 8:30 a.m. EST, comes in much weaker than expected, however, it could see a return to the jitters which have sent the UK index down 4.9 percent in January, its worst month since last February.

On the domestic front, house prices in Britain rose for a sixth consecutive month in December, increasing by 1.0 percent to bring their total rise since April’s low to 9.4 percent, mortgage lender Halifax said on Thursday.

December’s rise followed a revised 1.3 percent gain the previous month and means the average property ended the year 5.6 percent higher than they started it.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence in Britain rose in January, driven by improving optimism over the outlook for the economy and personal finances, a survey by GfK NOP for the European Commission showed on Friday.

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(Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Rallying banks, commods haul FTSE 0.7 percent higher